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Svetlana Zinyac's Journal
 
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Svetlana Zinyac's LiveJournal:

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Monday, February 1st, 2010
7:41 pm
The icy roommate - a New York Winter story for the Moth
- Is that a SPACE HEATER? Do you KNOW what that's going to do to the electric bill?
Ah, my roommate, the heat Nazi.
- How about I just pay a bigger portion of the utilities?
She didn't like that idea. Our calculations for who pays how much utilities were already so complex that only a quantitative analyst from Goldman Sachs could follow them.
- We'll talk about this AFTER I have my cigarette.
But I really wasn't looking forward to this conversation, so when she stepped outside I just locked the door behind her. She never takes her keys or cell phone, so in a few minutes she was banging on the door and being like LET ME IN...and I was like - Well it's the same temperature inside and outside house, so what difference does it make? Of course I was going to let her in in a few minutes, just as soon as I finished watching this video on youtube...but you know how those youtube things are, I clicked on another link and then another...then I realized half an hour had passed and I was like Oh shit. I opened the door...but she was gone. I walked down the street looking for her, then down another street, and found myself in an unfamiliar part of town, all warehouses and lofts. One of these buildings was transparent, like glass, so I came up to take a closer look at it, touched it...and it started melting beneath my fingers! It was made of ice.
- You like it?
I turned around and saw this guy with the oddest beard and moustache - they were covered with icicles that moved and jingled when he talked.
- This is your place?
- Well the landlord let me have a great deal on it, because of the economic crisis. And also because I've converted it into a loft, I've built out the entire inside myself. Wanna see?
- It sounds really cool, no pun intended, but I'm in the middle of looking for my roommate.
- Perfect, she's already here.
So I followed him inside. The inside was just like the outside - even the pipes and the wiring were ice, twisting up on the ceiling, the drywall was ice so you could see what looked like the wood frame inside of it, also made of ice.
- The best part about this is that I have so much space to work on my art.
He pointed to a fire pit in the middle of the floor. That's gotta be breaking all kinds of fire codes, I thought, but then I saw that this fire was very different - the logs were ice, the flames were black and grey, and instead of radiating heat, this fire just made everything around it colder. Next to the fire, there was a pile of little bodies, pigeons and rats and even a cat, all cold and stiff.
- Have they frozen to death?
- They were only a little bit frozen when I found them. To really freeze them, it takes more work.
With that, he picked up a rat and held it over the cold black fire. The poor rat first turned white as snow, and then it became more and more transparent until it was completely ice. He did this to each animal in turn, and then gathered them up.
- Now we'll take them to the gallery part. I built all those rooms to store and exhibit my work.
I followed him further into the loft. The first room was full of ice birds, and he added the new ones he had just frozen to the collection. The next room was for the ice rats, cats, and dogs. In a smaller room there were tiny intricate ice roaches and ice flies. And the last room, of course, was ice humans. Most of them looked like they had been homeless, with their ice bags and ice shopping carts. But the newest addition was my roommate, all ice, still with that pissed off look on her face. And when I saw that look, I remembered all those times I wanted to hit her, but was afraid she'd call the police on me...again. But now she was defenseless, so I came up to her and gave her a shove. She fell and broke into a thousand icy shards.

That was very satisfying, but she was the one on the lease, so without her, I'm going to have to find another place to live. So I'm looking for a room - this is just a substitute for a craigslist ad. Let me know if you or anyone you know has a room available. Thanks.
Tuesday, May 17th, 2005
9:15 pm
Like, whatever
Whee! I have finally decided to test what would happen if the point of failure in all of my current relationships with people at Raytheon was me. I don't even care who I told what. People only trusted me as much as they wanted. And then they'll take the right action about me being there or not being there.

I feel good about the result now, and now I will remember when I wake up - I will try to complete the project that I'm assigned to do, but it's not really important whether I'm there or not. They're fine without me being around.
Saturday, May 7th, 2005
8:50 am
a textbook case
Thursday I learned about Six Sigma, which confused the heck out of me and made me want to avoid business like the plague. Once again, I congratulate myself on quitting - in this case, quitting majoring in finance after about a year and a half. On the plus side, the Six Sigma training process itself included some fun games, including a hand of poker at the end in which I won an old, slightly beat-up but respectably hard-cover tech book. Skimming through it, I saw that my old NASA project was used as one of the examples in the book - the architecture diagrams, even photos of what seemed like the inside of the building - in a regular textbook-like fashion. At first it seemed like a strange coincidence, but then I realized that, duh, if somebody had written a book about me, I might buy a few copies and give them out as raffle prizes.

Friday included a fun encounter with data structures. Meesh would have loved to be there. Or maybe she'd be so frustrated that she wouldn't have liked to be there. Anyway, I would have liked her to be there, because I really didn't want to sound like a crusty old pedagogue by lecturing about log(n) and how looping through arrays is so 80's, so it would have been nice to have somebody there who's a professional advocate for data structures. In further fun, I may actually get to use graphs and graph algorithms at work - nothing crazy, just some dependencies that could stand to be stored in a graph.

Finally finished all the CS428 lectures, now it's time for the readings.
Wednesday, May 4th, 2005
7:57 pm
Level up! Otherwise, quit.
A CS428 lecture this morning before work, and hopefully another one this evening. Damn, it's almost like being in school, or something.

Professor Johnson said something that really got to me in today's lecture. Well, actually he said it in a lecture two weeks ago, but I was so busy with the term paper and then with work that I didn't listen to it until today (:P). Anyway, turns out that he was a math grad student, and he was doing all these proofs, and getting A's on his homeworks and tests, so he knew the math proofs he wrote were convincing his professors and his graders, but he never felt that those proofs were convincing to himself! He wondered whether his proofs were actually proving something! And it really bothered him, even to the point that he asked his professors about it. Then after doing graduate math for three or four years, he gradually began to be able to tell when a proof was good, enough that he recognized that his proofs really did prove stuff...Well, this makes me wonder - when I was in the math department, I often felt exactly the same worry - I got A's on some stuff, but I couldn't really tell whether what made my answers any good. (Unless it was a straightforward "for all X, Y is true" and I could just substitute things through like a computerized theorem prover would). I especially couldn't get a feel for the quality of my answers when I tried grad math classes. So then I quit. But Professor Johnson's story makes me wonder - if I'd stayed in math for four years, let's say, would I have eventually gotten enough experience to tell a good proof from a bad proof? Maybe it wasn't so hopeless as I thought, and I just gave up too early.

Still, I'm not too concerned about what might have been between mathematics and myself - I'm glad I got out, and I wish I'd done it sooner. In fact, three or four years is way too long to be patient about anything that's uncertain. Hmm... how many things in my life have I carried on for over four years... not many! Only two, in fact, and both of those were cases that I felt I hadn't a right to quit because my quitting would cause an unacceptable amount of damage to my family. When it was up to just me, I haven't sustained any effort for even three years. Quitting can be very gratifying.

On the other hand, you never know when nonquitting is going to pay off. For example, at work today, I had a pleasant surprise - I am now officially on the second rung of the corporate ladder! Woot! I am now E02 rather than E01. (The E stands for Engineer). It's made me quite giddy. Or maybe it's the spinning around in the chair that's making me giddy, I should cut that out. Anyway, now I have to work harder. No, not just to balance the karma, but because it's in the rulebook - E02's have to work harder than E01's, in like five categories, which I forget at the moment. Yeah, I'm a cog in the machine, and I'm happy about it.

Still more shiny cog-in-the-machine feelings to come: Following the suggestions of my classmates in CS428, I started looking at the content of the summer's course. For this summer, I am registered for a class I've been wanting to take for years now - Object-Oriented Programming and Design with Ralph Johnson. That's right, the mother of all patterns courses, straight from the horses mouth, based on the classic "Design Patterns" book that Johnson co-authored as one of the Gang of Four. It's going to be very interesting, and directly useful for the project I'm doing at work.

So, the only issue is - between May 11th (CS428 final) and May 31 (first day of CS598), I'll have two and a half weeks of no lectures. I could:
A) Start reading the "Design Patterns" book and learning Smalltalk (to increases my chances of still having free time during the summer semester).
B) Slack off, party, and hang out with people (because once the summer semester starts, I may end up having no life whatsoever).
Of course, I was better at life, I could just balance my time better and this wouldn't have to be a choice. But I'm not, and it is. So, any suggestions? Your vote counts!
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005
11:47 pm
weekend? what weekend?
Saturday and Sunday went by in a haze of bug hunting, bug fixing, and even more testing. By Sunday night I was totally fried. Is it just me, or does "there's gonna be a demo sometime next week" usually not translate to "this is going to be a really important demo to a new group of clients, so let's put in some new features on Friday, and then throw all the code into a suitcase early Monday morning and ship it off to the West Coast." Anyway, this short notice wouldn't be such a problem, except for the somewhat inconsiderately aggressive refactoring that I did over the last two weeks (while the other developer was in Israel, there was no one to keep me from changing code to my heart's content). So, any bugs that come up during a demo would almost certainly be my fault. The moral is: don't change nothing, unless you want to spend a weekend testing.

On Monday all my desk stuff had been magically moved to a new cubicle closer to a window. In fact, if I took a chainsaw and sawed through one wall of the cubicle, there would be a giant panel of glass with a nice view out of it, right there, only like six feet away!

I finally got time to do a CS428 lecture, and to fill out my billing for the summer course, CS598. I was mostly too out of it to be productive at anything. I did go to Jenny's yoga at NASA. And on the way back, I had my first encounter with the awesomest grocery store ever - a huge selection of organic stuff, kosher stuff, frozen stuff, and produce. Very strange - I knew Greenbelt was a good place in general, but I didn't really expect any PG Country store to be so nonghetto. Oh, that reminds me, last week Thursday, I forgot to mention another Greenbelt experience - dinner with Dan at the New Deal Cafe, with much happy reminiscing.

In general, it's amazing how many people tend to think about death and dying, like seriously think about it. Probably lots of people, who aren't anywhere close to dying, at any given time, are thinking about death and what it's like to become or to be dead! I've never had those kinds of thoughts - even if I try to think about it, I get almost immediately get bored and start thinking about something else - so it's difficult for me to relate. The closest I can get is that it seems like a generalization of the "damn, how am I going to have time to iron this shirt and go to the ATM and listen to a lecture and go to work and call my grandma and also make dinner and clean stuff and dance dance and hang out with friends, all in this one day" problem - lots of stuff, limited time.

Today I am somewhat more sane, and registered for the summer class. Lisa Pearl and Jesse MB were here visiting Meesh. Jesse shared her awesome Hungary photos, in the most organized scrapbook I've ever seen. Lisa stayed after and DDR'ed :) Now it's way late, and even though today's CS428 lecture is only fortyish minutes, I don't know whether I should go on with it or go to sleep.
Friday, April 29th, 2005
10:37 pm
as usual, a review of the saturday that was a week ago
Saturday the 23 I helped Alex move a little bit, and met Greg, CJ and Sarah.

Then I visited Cam and met a fellow named Avi. Cam has moved to Herndon, apparently. Cam's sister is going to high school now, except not really, because she's being homeschooled. Odd.

The rest of the week was kind of crazy. I had a term paper to write for CS428, which I got through without too much damage. Now I'm way behind on the lectures, though.

Work has been a lot of fun the last few weeks. While the other developer was on vacation, I went on a coding spree. Hope I didn't put too many bugs in, seeing as it turns out there's going to be a demo on Monday.

Unfortunately, with all these work and school deadlines this week, I didn't get a chance to participate in a visit that the www.russiandc.com folks made to a Russian soldier in the Ukrainian army who got wounded in Iraq and is now at Walter Reed. They went on Wednesday, and again today - hopefully they'll go again this weekend, and I'll come with.

In great stupidities, I seem to have left the power supply for my laptop at the Virginia office. Nothing to start a weekend off like a long, pointless drive to Rosslyn.
Saturday, April 23rd, 2005
10:00 am
The rest of last week
Monday, finally another Jenny yoga class at NASA. Then off to dryclean, and meet a bunch of people for no good reason. And some CS428.

Tuesday, another CS48 meeting. Another person is stuck in the same place I am, so I feel a bit less stupid.

Wednesday, more drycleaning, and a visit to the library to get a book about how to speak Ukrainian. Yes, that's right, just because of all those cool Ukrainians at the picnic on Saturday, I decided to get more familiar with it. And also my boss's boss from Rosslyn occasionally lets on that that I'm the Ukrainian expert of the office. So, I'm looking over the alphabet, to begin with. It's almost like Russian, except that "eh" and "yeh" are reversed, and there's four letter for sounds like i - one "i", one "ee", one "yi", and one "y".

Thursday night, unexpected phone calls, one from NY and one from my dad who got salmonella. Yeesh.

Friday, another CS428 meeting. It turns out there's a document that was written on March 1 that explains how to get around the stuff I got stuck on, and I didn't know about it until now. Also, started reading an online book for CS428, and my favorite part so far is the visitor's comment by Alejandro Ramirez at the bottom of http://philip.greenspun.com/panda/suck - towards the middle of his comment, I find myself agreeing that there's multiple viewpoints held by people about one truth that can only be known by an omniscient viewer, but then his conclusions towards the end of his commment are such that I can't tell where he's being serious and where he's being sarcastic - no basis for a decision being made, failure of the WWW, marketplace for militants... I'm not sure where he's going with all that, and especially the last sentence - I just don't get it.
Friday, April 22nd, 2005
11:31 pm
Saturday night. I hate MRN.
Yeah, I'm still talking about the Saturday that happened about a week ago. I'm slow that way.

Darcy's birthday at Sofia and Rowin's place. I brought the other one of the two chocolate raspberry cakes that I baked that morning. The presentation on Darcy's life was wonderfully businesslike, complete with corporate-style technical difficulties. It should have had an "invest in Darcy" sales pitch, too.

Holding the baby Thaisa proved unexpectedly difficult, don't know if it's just me, or whether she was extra squirmy. I've never held a 2-month-old before, so there's nothing to compare.

Then we played a game of MRN, which really got on my nerves, and I wasn't even the one guessing at this round. For those of you who don't know what MRN is, the basic premise is that the guesser, G, asks questions and tries to figure out the rules of the game, which everyone else in the room already knows. These questions are often insulting, intrusive, and insinuating, so that everyone who knows the rules laughs at some other person. For example:
G: So, tell me, is MRN an annoying asshole? Does he ever get laid?
A: Yes, MRN is an annoying asshole. Obviously, he never gets laid.
At this point, everyone in the room knows the rules, and they know that A has just just called MRN an annoying asshole, so they laugh. MRN also takes this with good-natured humor, and laughs along, because, hey, it's funny to be called an annoying asshole, and it's good for the world to know how often a person gets laid, and MRN doesn't want to give away the rules of the game by getting offended. G does not know the rules, and wonders why everyone in the room is laughing. :)

I don't know why this time MRN had more of a negative effect on me than it has in the past. Perhaps it was the contrast to the peaceful card games of Durak and the cussword-punctuated backgammon rounds earlier in the day, two games which involve some heated competition, but don't derive their value from embarassment, confusion, and probing people's personal lives the way MRN does.

Anyway, there were other party games after that, but I missed out on those. It was time to kick it down a notch, after a day of so many things that it took three livejournal entries to describe them.
Thursday, April 21st, 2005
12:10 am
Super Saturday afternoon
Met many happy people at a random picnic in Greenbelt Park, which was announced on RussianDC.com on Friday. The instigators, Vitaly and Misha, showed up with two pots full of pork, and I with a chocolate raspberry cake. We tried to find a secluded spot, so the police wouldn't see the beer. Turns out Misha knew Greg from the Takoma Park aikido dojo. Small world moment. Another Misha showed up with Alena, Julia, then Elly and Leo, and then Olga. Then, in the midst of heating up the grill, skewering the meat, and making tomato salad, the police showed up and said the party needed to move to a less secluded spot. Well, at least they didn't take the beer, so except for the wasted coals, there was nothing lost. I got a ride to the new spot in a car that had the soundtrack from "The Triplettes of Belleville". More people arrived, including Andrew, Volodya, Lena, Leo, Zaur, and Anna who happened to know the artist Anna Shakeev from the Torpedo Factory, and Oleg whom Masha and I met earlier at the UMD Valentine's dance. Oleg was getting interested in Hillel stuff, to my surprise. Anna told me about how much fun the artists from the Torpedo Factory have - I guess I never thought of Russians as a particularly artistic lot, but there were at least two graphic designers at the picnic, and two other who had attended MICA. More small world moments. But, less about art, more about food - Volodya had brought and cooked a competing lot of pork blobs. Of course, besides the bbq people brought all the standard fixings like bread and pickles, and somebody brought honey pepper Nemiroff, but fortunately, I only found that out towards the end of the bottle, so there wasn't any temptation of yummy vodka to resist. After the eating, a game Durak in a format that I had never seen before - same rules without passing, an even number of people, and alternating people form teams, so a person on your team never goes against you and never adds cards against you. Lots of people were speaking Ukrainian, and even singing Chervona Ruta, and it made me wonder why I've always been so anti-Ukrainian - I guess I just didn't know so many cool people spoke it!

Also, there were more people whose names I didn't find out or didn't remember. I'm hoping that listing all the ones I do remember here will help me remember them even longer.
Tuesday, April 19th, 2005
8:09 pm
Super Saturday morning
Saturday morning I volunteered at the job fair for PG county teens held at the Raytheon building. There was one woman with a granddaughter who told me about her volunteering in general, a US National Guard recruiter who tried to tempt me with a security clearance, and a teen named Allen who seemed like he had a pretty good plan for getting somewhere better in life.

On the way home, a speech by Constance Rice on the radio did something no speech on CSPAN has done before - I instantly wanted to vote for her to be made president of the US, or the world, for that matter. Where do I send the check? Where do I sign up? Her vision unites women and men, inner-city gangs in LA and farmers in Appalachia, soccer moms and Al-Qaeda operatives - every person dreams of security, opportunity, hope of reaching their goals, becoming who they want to be for themselves and for others, and all of them could benefit from a safety net, more education, and more of a chances to improve their economic position. Damn. I just can't explain it as well as she did. She's awesome.
Saturday, April 16th, 2005
11:01 pm
now where did i put that source code...
On Wednesday, no yoga at Annapolis since Jenny has a semester break. Home yoga practice, and another CS428 lecture.

Thursday was all worky stuff trying to get stuff in shape for a demo next week. Also, dug up my old code from August - two of the computers I had it on had been reinstalled since then, so it was wiped from there, but turns out I had a backup on bumba (thanks John, Greg, and Dave). Didn't have time to see whether there was anything to salvage out of that code, codewise or conceptwise, maybe I'll have a longer look at it this weekend. Thursday night Josh was in town, long time no see, so that was worth a visit to the Perk. Also, I started brushing up on Hebrew again, this time with the Foreign Service conversational skills book. Unit 1. Very different approach from the classroom and class-oriented textbooks. The goal is to have embassy workers be able to carry on conversations ASAP, focusing on the difficult part of conversing a new language - understanding what the natives are saying.

Friday another CS428 meeting, mercifully short. Then I finally got competent at "Tsugaru Desire Remix" in DDR Hands and Feet, though I didn't pass it. Unit 2 of Hebrew, and a pretty good home yoga practice. At work, there's a new task that could directly use the refactoring concepts I learned in lecture two days ago! Except I'm not sure I want to do it quite the way the professor said...I'll think about it more on Monday.
Wednesday, April 13th, 2005
12:25 am
i had almost forgotten this feeling of almost getting some and then not getting any
On Saturday, the Cherry Blossom festival, with my parents and Dave, briefly running into Dan and Jungdae. I wonder if that Pennsylvania avenue part was there three years ago, and Cam and Jane and I just managed to be oblivious to it. Anyway, this year was much more interesting. Still, even the trinkets and martial arts demonstrations were not as memorable as the oden soup from Hama Sushi, with its ten differrent kinds of fishcake. Oh, and there were some actual cherry blossoms, too, and the FDR memorial, which we've never seen before, turned out to be neat, too.

Saturday night was kind of stupid - I wanted to go to to4ka (http://www.to4ka.com), but I didn't go because I didn't think anyone I knew was going, and my parents said that it would be bad if I went alone. So, instead of going to to4ka I stayed home, and then I was full of anticipation and excitement with no outlet for it, which made me edgy and resentful and sleepless, much like having foreplay not followed by intercourse. And this unpleasant state lasts for hours, so on Sunday I was still discombobulated, until I managed to push my mind back into a state of apathetic equilibrium by listening to a CS428 lecture. It was nice and warm out, so listening to the lecture outside seemed like a good idea until an ant crawled into the keyboard, and made me wonder about the effects of insects inside my laptop. (It's almost like a pun, with bugs in my hardware instead of my software.)

Sunday night I went to the restauranty lake in Columbia, walked around the lake, and got some frog legs, much fresher and yummier than the fishy-tasting ones at Viet Palace. They really do taste like chicken. On the way back home, a hilarious radio play combining Lipton tea strings in the commercial with the hangman's noose in the performance.

Monday was grocery shopping again. No yoga at NASA, since it wasn't in session this week. Another lecture.

Today was a CS428 meeting. And brownie cake with frozen raspberries baked into the mix. And more AIM with Masha's friend Dan. Also, helping Meesh alphabetize stuff and reading grades out loud for dictation, which is always fun.
Friday, April 8th, 2005
11:46 am
week of too much fun
First, I must admit that the after-work part of Monday was mundane and grocery-shopping.

Tuesday was not too much out of the ordinary, with an online meeting for CS428 as usual. I went to Goddard to pick up the temporary badge for yoga, provided courtesy of Lena. I also found the Betty Crocker "Super Moist Party Cakes" cookbook, which I failed to do on Monday, and got a copy. Now I will make awesome cakes to bring to the office. The first thing will be cherry brownies made out of chocolate cake mix and canned cherry pie filling. Artificially delicious.

In exciting things, I unlocked a bunch of new hands-and-feet songs in DDR, including "Tsugaru" which is even more impossible than "B4U". But then I somehow un-unlocked them and some of them disappeared.

The fun stuff started on Wednesday. We got a new tech lead at work, bringing the total number of people on the project to five. He seems pretty cool.

Wednesday night I was all set to drive out to yoga at Jenny's Annapolis studio. But all of a sudden, Dr. Lim called and told me that they missed one thingie of blood. So, after work I went to a lab in Gaithersburg, and provided that. I had never been around that area before, and tried a Japanese/Korean restaurant called Ichiban. It had awesome sushi, and a shredded raw beef dish that repaired the damage that Yi Jo (Korean, in College Park) had done to my opinion of Korean raw beef. Raw beef, egg yolk, cucumber, pear, and oranges - five great tastes, together. It gives a whole new meaning to "blood oranges". And, it was full of the red-meaty iron nutrients, perfect for someone who has just lost blood.

On Thursday, I went to see a concert of "Ladysmith Black Mombaza" at CSPAC on campus, with Masha and her friend Danya. It was sold out, but we got tickets after all, from the standby line. The opening act made me keep falling asleep, so I went to the lobby for potato chips and talked to people at the bar - Josh, Mark, and Amber - until intermission. The second half, with the actual Ladysmith Black Mombaza people performing, was much more entertaining - they kept doing pantomimy things while they sang, all fairly unexpected and pleasantly confusing, that held my attention quite well. After the concert, I ran into my ex-roommate-Jessica's ex-roommate Christine, and she told me that Jessica got burned out in theater tech and went into horticulture. This is very surprising - I can hardly believe Jessica would do something like that. It would be like if Jane suddenly quit med school and said that she didn't want to be a doctor. Yet another mark against my understanding-people skills.

Then Masha, Danya, and I went to Plato's. Plato's has done something funky with their menu, including cabbage-and-kielbasa soup that was so good I want to bring my parents there to try it. On the way to Plato's we were behind a car whose license plate said "doula", and that started off a conversation that continued until 2:30 in the morning. I felt guilty keeping Danya and Masha up that late, but there were just so many new ideas and good paths of reasoning to discuss that sleep seemed far less appealing.

Now it's Friday, the day for another CS428 online meeting.
Tuesday, April 5th, 2005
12:10 am
fun! more so than any other time this year
Friday Ariel visited and got along well with Meesh, as predicted.

Saturday I visited Rob. It was not too discouraging.

But, the fun part I'm referring to was Sunday. I went to the Smithsonian kite festival (http://www.kitefestival.org/). It turned out to be surprisingly cold. Ironically, the wind that makes the kites fly is the same wind as makes people cold and miserable. There were fewer people and fewer kites than 2002 and 2003. But this time, I actually brought two kites that worked, as opposed to 2003, when I tried to make my own kite and failed. So, I had two functional kites. Once I got to the mall, I met up with Leo and Sasha. Then Masha joined us, and then another Sasha. We flew both of the kites several times, got each of them tangled in trees and then tangled out, and one kite kind of tangled up into the weathervane flagpole on top of the red Smithsonian castle building and then tangled out, and one of the kites - the rainbow delta that had to be assembled with an annoyingly long wooden crosspiece - snapped off of the string and flew away, landing god knows where, hopefully with no injury to people nor property, never to be seen again - so now I have left one kite, the orange yellow purple parasail-shaped one which folds up into a convenient pocket-sized baggie, including its enormous tail. Perhaps the moral is - don't use safety pins to secure kites to strings. Although, somehow, the safety pin ended up on the other spool of kitestring later on, so perhaps what happened is that the lines got crossed, and that's what caused the pin to come undone.

It's really a wonder that the kite festival hasn't been destroyed by lawsuits and terrorism concerns, what with the potential threat to museums and to monuments, and with big wooden-frame kites falling on people's heads, and kite strings along the ground tripping people. At one point we even managed to get one of our kite strings in such a position as to gently dislodge a passerby's toddler out of their stroller. The toddler was confused and spent a long time staring at us, the string, and the stroller, but didn't cry. People were just unusually laid back, including myself, and seemed to be not bothered by cold, puddles, trippy kitestrings, and falling kites. In incidental neat things, Felix Cartagena the bubble-machine man was there with his bubble machine, which he has expanded so it makes twice the bubbles (http://bubblesbubbles.com/). And there were several huge dogs being shown off by their owners.

Finally we had grown satisfied with the kite adventures, and began to feel more defeated by the cold weather, so then we went off to Eastern market, which I've always heard much and wondered some about but never visited. It turns out to be a combination flea market and a collection of booths selling meats, vegetables, fruits, or art. A great bias towards bacon and other pork products, for some reason. We had reasonable pizza around there.

Then I went back up to Laurel and had another dinner at Pasta Plus.

With all this fun, I hadn't gotten my homework done, so then I was up until 2 doing homework.

Monday was back in Rosslyn with demo excitement. Missed Monday yoga at NASA - hope Lena doesn't take offense.
Thursday, March 31st, 2005
10:51 pm
you may be a dancer, but you ain't no researcher
Yesterday I finally beat B4U remix with the hands-and-feet in DDR Extreme. I kept getting E's for days, and then I got a C, and then some more E's, and then a B. Woo!

Today Samir and I had lunch on campus. He told me about an 11th grader who called because he was interested in algorithms, learned all the material in CMSC651 just like that, and then, over the summer, wrote a research paper that got picked by Intel as a top publication. Wow. As a high schooler, I never even suspected that it was possible to get interested in something, talk to a real-world person who was an expert at it, and contribute to it in some real way. Like, my high school had mock trial and mock Senate. Everything was just practice activities taylored to look good on an application.

Also, I visited Yoo Ah and Justin. They are about to finish their Ph.D.'s, and go off to professorship and to Google, respectively. I felt like I was an emissary from the strange world of non-research. Also, I felt old, since Yoo Ah's daughter, whom I last saw in fetus format, is now 2 years and 4 months old.
Wednesday, March 30th, 2005
9:58 pm
one more yoga connection, one less network connection
Thanks to Sophia's mom, Jelena, who very kindly let me be her guest at Goddard Space Flight Center and thus enabled me to take Jenny Otto's Monday yoga class! Now I don't have to deal with Jenny's Tuesday and Thursday classes conflicting with the UIUC lectures, nor do I need to drive out to Annapolis on Wednesdays, even though I still plan to do that most Wednesdays for the more advanced class. Hm...I feel like a total Jenny-stalker, but she is by far the best yoga teacher of the 20-30 teachers who have taught me, and I'm addicted. Once again, much thanks to Lena.

Yesterday, I finally migrated the CVS server of the source code for my project at work. Now it's on a Raytheon server, instead of being at my house. What a relief! Now when spacebird goes down, I don't have to worry about how anyone will get work done. It's poossible that the Landover site loses power more often than my house does, but whether it's up or down, the important part is that it's no longer my problem.

Today I met Brennan, who was friends with my old roommate Jessica Sherlock.
Sunday, March 27th, 2005
9:43 pm
partying with the parents
On Friday I got a phone call from someone I had never met before. I thought they should tell me who gave them my phone number. When they kept trying to dodge that question, even while talking to me for the second time on Saturday, I stopped wanting to talk to them. Still don't know whether I overreacted. Maybe I just had to have that unpleasant phone call to karmically balance out the enjoyable phone call with Leo. And Jane called too, about trying to hook her car-selling aunt with my car-buying dad, and about her upcoming trip to Prague...So, the phone gods have, overall, been good this weekend.

On Saturday, Dave's parents came by for Easter, and they finally met my parents. It went well - no major violence or verbal abuse, at least to anyone's face.

Operation "Clubbing with my Mom" was a success. She liked To4ka and had a good dance-filled birthday-celebrating night. And my dad got up and danced too, towards the end. Oh, and they didn't complain about the food at Grapeseed, either, to my pleasant surprise.

Today I encountered Irish food for the first time ever, at Killarney House in Davidsonville, MD. The flavors were nothing complicated, but it was all very fresh and yummy. Definitely the best food around here, with the exception of Pasta Plus. Anyway, I'm totally zombie-like from staying up until 3:30 last night. It has the interesting effect of tuning my attention to things I don't notice at all usually - like John's clothing, and like the Buddhist statue garden that I've driven by on the way to work for the last two years without really seeing it. Strange. I wonder if I can use this effect for some good purpose.
Thursday, March 24th, 2005
8:54 pm
a new record in stupid
So, I thought my spring break was last week, so I ignored classes completely all that week. But it turns out classes were in session last week, and I was just ignoring them for no good reason. And my spring break is actually this week. This definitely sets some kind of personal stupidity record.
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005
10:17 pm
more blood
Eight or nine thingies of it, to be precise. I trust that this rheumatologist guy - Ivan Lim - did all this for a good reason. His attitude was very professional and competent. This time the bloodwork didn't make me faint, and I thought I was good to go home, but then I got pulled over by a cop and told to chill out for a while instead of trying to drive.
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005
8:06 pm
Svetlana does Baltimore, yet again.
Sunday was spent in some unusually productive Baltimoreing. Lunch at Panera Bread, dinner at Suburban House, and extreme relative visiting in between. I got the awesomest photograph from grandma Ira. I think it's the earliest photo of me with my parents. We all looked so happy. I just kept staring at it, and then I realized that tears and snot would probably not improve its condition, especially seeing as it was already pretty faded. Or, maybe it wasn't that faded but just messed up to start with, because when I got home and showed it to my dad, he said "Oh, yeah, I printed that, the color is all screwed up just the way my other prints were." Hopefully it'll be possible to scan this photo in, print copies of it, and post it all over the place. In other classic moments, Greatgrandma Sonya was telling me to seek out my parents advice about important decision, and said the cutest thing - "Listen to Ira too. She's still a young'un, but she's starting to have useful opinions". Sonya is 99, Ira is 76. I suppose from a mother's point of view, a daughter always seems young and foolish. Grandma Raya also had some interesting news - that uncle Grisha had a double bypass surgery last week. So I went to see aunt Sofa and uncle Grisha too. Grisha was looking pretty well, I'd never have guessed he just had a major operation. Also, I talked to Ina on the phone, and she seems to be doing fine.

Yesterday I finally got an oil change. While they were working on that, I walked down to Common Grounds in Hampden and got a homemade banana cream pie full of big roasted banana pieces that I now want to get the recipe for. Hampden looks unusually non-ghetto-like in the early mornings, what with all the parents walking their kids to school. The kids totally outnumber the homeless-looking people and the thrift shoppers. Then I gave my mom a ride to work, so now I know what building she works in. Anyway, the mechanics at K&S totally tried to overcharge me for the oil change and other stuff, and succeeded. They know I'm a sucker. But then when my dad heard about it, he called them and made them give him half of the money back. But, this makes me think - If I'm going to be overcharged, I might as well get overcharged here in Burtonsville instead of driving all the way out to Baltimore to get overcharged.

Later that day I hung out with Dan. Good times.

I realize now that I shouldn't have abandoned my study of Hebrew. Trying to read a web page and understanding one-quarter of the words is pretty discouraging.

Today I got the brilliant idea to take my mom to To4ka for her birthday. Clubbing with my mom! Yay!
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