Wednesday, May 27, 2009

FLICKR pictures

I haven't written much about the hiking trip yet, but I finally got all my pictures uploaded. They can be found at

If you're patient, my next task is actually labeling them all, so they make some sense.


I'm a strange person. For many reasons, but one of them is the way I treat new things. If I download some new music on iTunes, say the semester of choir music, I almost instantly become very attached to one of the pieces. I listen to it multiple times in a row, multiple times a day, for a few weeks. Then I've worn it out and go on to a new thing.

The thing could be a book, a piece of music, a musical artist or composer, a food, a blog, or a tv show. Recently some of these obsessions have been the song Popular from Wicked (music), Unicornis Captivatur by Ola Gjeilo (music), chocolate milkshakes, Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton (book - but his blog Roots and Grubs is a previous obsession), and The Girl Who Ate Everything by Robyn Lee (blog).

The music obsessions are the easiest and are usually cured with $.99 on iTunes and about 4-8 listens per day, usually on the bus. The blogs are the hardest because I can spend whole weekends going through archived posts. The book obsessions are odd, because usually I'll only read the book once, but then I'll reference it a lot and tell other people about it. Or, in the case of Hungry Monkey, I read it, then cook from it, tell people about it, AND watch all the press about it. (Tonight I made Yeasted Waffles with candied bacon a la Joy the Baker)

But one of the interesting side effects of this is that encountering the obsession at a later date brings back strong memories of the time of the obsession. Hearing Stan Rogers or Da Vinci's Notebook brings me back to my dorm room in college, Gordon Lightfoot and the Cambridge Singers remind me of my parents' house, and Kate Rusby of spring break in 2004 wandering around Europe. Nachos and ice cream sundaes are spring semester Senior year of college. Madeleine L'Engle with the spring of Junior year of High School when I read 30 of her books in a month for a "research project" at school.

So that's a little insight into me...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Outrage followed by childish grins

So there's a news story in the Minnesota papers that's made it to national news. I first noticed it last week before it was such a big deal.

The basis of the story is this. There's a 13 year old boy in a town called Sleepy Eye, MN who has Hodgkin's lymphoma. His story was in the paper last week because he and his family are refusing chemotherapy. Chemo which would rid him of cancer with 85-90% liklihood. Without it, his doctors predict he will die within five years. Last week the court decided it was medical negligence and ruled that yesterday he get a chest x-ray. He got it and the cancer is back to the level it was before he got his single chemo treatment. Today they had a court hearing to determine what to do. BUT...he didn't show up. And he and his mom are missing. (Which is why this is a national case now...)

From the Star Tribune article: "Anthony Hauser said he last spoke to his wife about 4 p.m. Monday as he milked cows at the family farm near Sleepy Eye. He said his wife told him she was going to leave and "That's all you need to know.""

So now there's a warrant for the mom's arrest in any state and the prosecuter is working to see if he can get the dad put in jail until the child is found. The judge also found the mom in contempt of court and has ordered the boy to be put into a foster home as soon as he's found where he will get medical treatment. "County officials had "kind of suspected this would happen,""

I read some of the court transcripts last week which fascinated me in a way. The boy is one of eight children in a Catholic household, but his family also subscribes to the belief that natural medicine will cure all.

This wouldn't be quite so bad if it seemed like the boy was educated to the point where he would seem to understand the decision he's making...BUT that is not the fact. Unfortunately he's one of the people that gives "home-schooling" a bad name. From a Star Tribune opinion piece: "When tested by his teacher for entrance into a charter school, according to court documents, Daniel, who had been home-schooled, could not identify the following word: "The." "

More info from the Star Tribune.

So hopefully the boy will be found and he'll get his treatment and learn to make decisions for himself.

BUT I want to end this on a happy note, so I'll send you off to watch this clip of a incredibly functional family. Matthew Amster-Burton is a fun food writer who became a stay at home dad when his daughter Iris was born. He has a new book out called "Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater." The book is fun, fast, and full of stories and recipes. Matthew and Iris were on CBS' Early Show this morning. Check out the clip on his blog.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Foreign Language Help

I'm currently doing research that involves online communities and multiple languages. As part of this, I'm analyzing some exceedingly popular languages (Spanish, German, Japanese...) as well as some less studied communities (Volapuk, Ukrainian, Esperanto).

The idea is that we're doing some basic text processing. To reduce the amount of time this takes and the value of the analysis, we're wanting to exclude a standard list of stop words. These are words, in English, such as in to a and the that, etc. (Examples in English, German, French) While I can find these for most European languages and have learned of other languages (Japanese, Chinese) don't really have a concept of stop words in their language.

While I've found stop word lists for most of the languages, I'm stumped on three languages: Esperanto, Volapuk, Ukrainian, and Bengali. Any insights would be appreciated.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Still slacking...more eye candy

So I'm still bad about posting, but I know some of you check everyday for posts, so here's a picture. My travel and life should calm down in a week, so hopefully I'll post about my trips and migraines and many other things that Simon and I have been brainstorming. (Click for higher resolution photos.)

Panorama of the canyon at Coyote Gulch (on the way out)

Panorama of basecamp: Everyone is lounging around reading except for Charles and Reid who are cooking dinner. Apologies to Andy W. because in this panorama his head got squished.