I don't know how many of these methods I'll keep up in the long-term, but I thought I'd list them in case they're of use or interest to anyone else.

Essentially I found myself in a mood to ask myself, just how much plastic is passing into the environment via my purchasing habits? Even though I send a lot of it to recycling, that's its own use of energy. Mostly I was looking at my grocery shopping:

  • I already take my own reusable bags (or reuse old plastic bags) at the checkout, and for fruit as well. I do like to get the occasional new plastic bag for use as bin-liners; I'm going to try emptying their contents directly into the red bin for a while, instead of tying the bags off and putting them in all together. But I haven't found myself throwing much into the red bin since making this resolution so no data on how that goes.

  • A 2L plastic bottle of milk every 7-10 days. And you can't even reuse milk bottles to store water against emergencies; hygiene aside, the plastic breaks down over time. Speaking of emergencies, though, I'd been considering getting a bag of milk powder for my supplies. So I thought I'd try it in every-day use. So far it's worked well in baking, yoghurt-making, hot chocolate, and morning cereal, ie all my normal uses except drinking straight from the fridge, which will wait until summer for testing. It takes a few moments extra in the morning to mix it (my preferred method: boil the jug, dissolve the powder in a bit of boiling water, then add cold to desired strength) but it's become part of my routine over the last couple of weeks so I think I will keep this one up. Bonuses: here at least it's significantly cheaper than fresh milk; no running out at inconvenient moments; and conversely no finding that it's gone sour before I've finished it.

  • A plastic bag around my bread each week. I've revived my bread-making to avoid this; to be honest it's the one I'm least likely to keep up. OTOH I have discovered that if I bake the bread and let the oven cool somewhat but not completely, it's a great place to incubate yoghurt overnight. And the bread is so tasty - it's just the time it takes. We'll see. I may just keep going through phases on it.

  • A plastic bag of muesli every week or so. I'm experimenting with pick-n-mix (taking my own bags) but pick-n-mix rolled oats alone cost about the same as (budget) prepackaged muesli. :-( Does anyone know why rolled oats and muesli come in plastic, when flour and sugar come in paper??

  • A couple of plastic packages of shaved ham every few weeks. (The recycling status of which I was never sure about, so red-binned them!) Careful attention revealed that cheap ham at the deli is cheaper than cheap ham prepackaged. Moreover today I was brave and found out that if you take your own container along they'll use that instead of a fresh plastic bag. (At least the guy I struck today did, and even set the scales to discount the weight of the container though I wouldn't have minded that little bit.) So I just need to keep organised.

Beyond plastic - I've also taken to washing dishes in a tub, and using the water on the garden. (Someone at church has set up her laundry pipes to use water from that on the garden; I think I'd just flood the house.)

And recently I came across SolarAid, a charity whose selling point is that you can 'offset your carbon' from flights you make by funding solar-powered lights for personal use (eg kids doing homework) in developing countries to replace kerosene, which besides emitting copious carbon dioxide is expensive, not that bright, and seriously unhealthy. It seems win-win-win so I looked for a catch but couldn't find any.

Anyway this came at a time shortly after a) I'd made some international flights and b) I'd received a tax rebate from last year's charitable donations so next thing you know I'd apparently donated enough to get sent an example solar light in the mail. It just arrived today, and it's cute and lightweight and works out of the packaging, and I'm weighing up whether it goes in my emergency kit or to City Mission here because goodness knows it's not just kids in the developing world who can't do homework due to lack of money for power.:-(
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([personal profile] jhameia Sep. 20th, 2017 11:54 pm)
So, I signed the TA contract, uploaded it, and waited for my student account balance to change... and it didn't. So it turns out, after asking around, that 6th year international students pay tuition AND non-resident tuition regardless of financial aid, and filing fee status is the only way to be exempt.

I emailed Grad Div about whether I'd have to re-petition to be on filing fee status should it come down to that, and also texted the prof about it. She called me, and we talked it over, and she seems keen to keep me as her TA. She's emailed the department chair, the dean of Grad Div, and some other admin people, and I guess going to look for a way to get my tuition waivered regardless because it's just not a well-known thing. I don't have a lot of hope for that but I'm holding out SOME optimism because I would love to TA for this class. But if it comes down to it, I can't justifying paying $10,000 to TA for a 10-week class, when I'm defending in Week 2. And that includes health insurance too, which was another solid reason to accept the TAship and get the fee waiver.

=/ Very unhappy with how this is shaking out. Fingers crossed that it works out.
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([personal profile] jhameia Sep. 19th, 2017 11:18 pm)
I don't really know what I did with my day after my morning walk and lunch... I answered some emails?? I read half a book?? I tried making a scrunchie?? IDK IDK IDK it was not successful I used the wrong kind of fabric... scrunchie fabric must also be elastic, not just the elastic core! Too bad... it's so cute! Maybe I can make some fabric jewelry?

Had a bit of a scare with a notice from the Registrar's office stating that because I didn't pay my fees (I did, but it was filing fee status stuff) I was de-registered. I had to get myself registered again and make sure I got my contract for my TAship, and that'll process my fee remission. I am hoping that this will also include non-resident tuition, because that would be $10000 and it would suck. Once that is done I can apply for program extension for my I-20 and then get down to the business of applying for OPT.

I DID get a dissertation defense date: October 11, 3pm - 5pm. The same day as a department party. Hoo boy. I also got comments from Dr. Brevik-Zender, so tomorrow I feel pretty confident about starting a bit more revisions. I'd like to incorporate the comments about including neoliberalism as a framework which informs the discourse of steampunk, although that involves... learning how to talk about neoliberalism. I sort of understand how to talk about it as an overarching ideology but most of what I read about it tends to get wrapped up in talking about economics and government, whereas I need to gear my discussion of it towards how it affects discourses of individual choices and masks institutional frameworks as freedom. I also need to tighten some of my analysis to make sure I'm not doing a lot of summary.

I have stomach issues again. The only culprit I can think of is the rice I ate, and the cookies I got from the store. I've eaten these cookies before with no issue, but that was WAY before the Metformin, so....... maybe my body just hates certain kinds of sugars now?? I may never return to eating cookies with impunity??

Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit more productive??
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([personal profile] jhameia Sep. 18th, 2017 10:39 pm)
Yesterday I went into Box Springs again. There's a fence between Box Springs and Islander Park on Linden, the wall of which is the pipe through which I usually scootch. But this time I wanted to see if I could find the other end of the fence which the Metrolink put up which cuts off easy access from Big Springs Road to the "C" trail. It took me a while, but eventually I found a trail that winds out near the intersection of Watkins and Mount Vernon, right into the parking lot of the Riverside STEM Academy, which I hadn't even realized was a thing.

I was pretty pooped afterwards though. I meant to go back out to do a raid after lunch, but thought I'd lay down for a twenty minute nap which turned into two and a half hours. Ooops.

What I did get started on which was semi-productive was fixing up my jeans. The smallest pair of jeans from several years ago (probably when I first moved here) fit, but it had gaping holes in the inner thigh area (as one does). It was really comfy and I didn't feel like giving it up, so I basically double-patched it: inside and outside. That's some reinforcement in the places which get the most friction, and hopefully this will hold up. I think it'll work out well.

Today I spent puzzling out how to alter my jacket sleeves. I think I undid my stitches on the left sleeve about 8 times trying to make it lay down right. Finally I gave up on the idea of it looking perfect, since it's not going to be visible anyway, and having it so the outer layer lay down okay. I think I did all right. I'm actually not entirely sure where the sleeve should end, but when my arm is relaxed at the side, the sleeve comes up to the wrist, which I think looks professional.

I got frustrated about halfway through, and went out for lunch to Pho Vinam. I think I ate too much, though. I probably didn't need to eat half the meat on the plate, and should have just tried for a third instead. I was yawning the rest of the day, and had to lay down for a while, but I otherwise persevered, and I now have proper jacket sleeves. The right sleeve took about 5 tries. SIGH. On the bright side, I think I can say that my slip stitch is improving.

I dug around my fabric stash looking for jeans material, which I could have SWORN I had somewhere, because I wanted to patch the other two pairs of old jeans (they don't fit well, but they can't be easily pulled off my hips either). I decided to use some fancy embroidered scrap to patch the inner thighs of one of my jeans instead. I feel they're fairly visible to anybody staring at my butt, but maybe this will give me manic pixie dream girl vibes.

I'm still not caught up with Night Vale (which I can only listen to when my hands are otherwise occupied by crafts) and frankly I should really vacuum my bedroom.

Tomorrow if I wake up early enough, I'll definitely try for another 5k walk. The mornings have been amazingly foggy so I don't want to lose that opportunity.

I did, however, find the book in which I had started re-writing my steampunk romance novel, so I'm gonna see what I can puzzle out of it tomorrow. Maybe I'll go downtown and do some writing? At least least get re-acquainted with this second draft of the novel.
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([personal profile] rem Sep. 17th, 2017 09:57 pm)

If you like California and you like typewriters, you're going to enjoy California Typewriter. Heck, even if you don't like California, you may enjoy California Typewriter.

This movie is a nostalgic look at the typewriter through the eyes of celebrity enthusiasts, a collector, an artist and a store that sells and repairs typewriters, and is the source of the movie's title

While I'm not a typewriter fanatic who owns several and types on them all the time, I do have an appreciation for typewriters. I can also relate to the enthusiasm for vintage technology which works just fine, thank you very much, even as the rest of the world moves on. This was a great documentary.

ETA: One day later, xkcd puts out an appropos cartoon.

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([personal profile] rem Sep. 17th, 2017 09:30 pm)

Those of you who've desperately wanted to hear Arnold Schwarzenegger sing country western can now rejoice. as your fervent prayers have finally been answered.

Killing Gunther is about a group of assassins who reach the conclusion that the only way to raise their status -- and become the best -- is to kill the best assassin around, a fellow named Gunther. Each attempt to take Gunther down goes wrong, making the group -- or at least its leader -- even more determined to finish the job once and for all. I'm reminded of a moment from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:

Khan: Kirk! You're still alive, my old friend!

Kirk: Still, "old friend." You've managed to kill just about everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target!

While I ultimately liked this movie, it was a mixed bag. It's listed as "action, comedy" and that's certainly true, but it felt like as the movie progressed, the universe in which it operated became increasingly surreal (or decreasingly realistic, if you prefer). I'm all right with any part of the spectrum, but I would have preferred the movie (or its creators) to pick a spot and stay there.

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([personal profile] rem Sep. 17th, 2017 04:39 pm)

Cress is the third book in Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series, directly following Scarlet. This book wastes no time introducing its titular character who is a shell and a programmer but is not, as I would say in jest, a shell programmer. In this case, "shell" is a word describing Lunars who lack the ability to glamour. As for the word "programmer," as used by Lunars, I would classify her a hacker. She's been imprisoned on a satellite in orbit of Earth for many years, spying on the planet below. Recently, she was tasked with locating Cinder and her band of rebels. An technically, she did. But rather than report their whereabouts to her master, she's been using her talents to keep them hidden. They might be just the right people to help her escape. Meanwhile, Cinder and company are working to disrupt the wedding of Emperor Kaito and Queen Levana. Once they're married, no one will be able to stop Levana from taking over the planet.

Can the wedding be stopped? Will Cress escape her prison?

I normally stop reading a book after about four weeks if I haven't finished it. I spent more than that reading this, partly because it's noticeably longer than the previous two books and partly because I had some issues going on which limited my reading time. But it was worth it. These are great characters, whether split up or working together.

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([personal profile] jhameia Sep. 17th, 2017 12:24 am)
This morning around 9am, it was nice and cloudy, so I went for a long walk up Blaine, into Box Springs, and then into the pipe connecting Box Springs park to the Islander park. I'm sure there has to be an easier way around but I couldn't be bothered. It was nice, though.

Then I got home and, uh, slept. I mean, I had lunch, but then slept. I meant to sleep an hour? But instead of waking up at 2, I woke up at 4.30 =/ I frittered the rest of the day away, until I decided to clear my desk a little and do some sewing. I wanted to alter the sleeves of my new jacket, but realized I didn't know how, so I decided to work on something else which I'll wear more immediately.

I had three pairs of jeans which I'd grown too big for laying around. Two of them have already been taken to the seamstress back home for patching, and the smallest pair just... has a couple of giant holes that I couldn't even begin to fix. I patched this smallest pair tonight. It, uh, sits. Snugly. The other two pairs also fit but not as snugly.

Which means my current pair of jeans, which I've been holding up with a belt, is just too big. I can pull it off my hips without the belt. So. Sigh.

Which ALSO means that upon fitting, my only dress pants also fall off my hips pretty easily, which means I have no pocketed dress pants for teaching =/

I generally try not to hang onto old clothes very much unless they're very unique pieces. Not since leaving Halifax, whereupon I discovered I had pants from the size 0 to 14, in the same closet. I can now fit into some older clothes, which is nice, I guess? Like a really goth jacket, and one of my first sweaters (which has since been designated the sweater upon which I sew patches). But also means I have to go replace some perfectly good clothing.

I have very mixed feelings about the whole thing.

Also, I found a small nick on an inner piece of my sewing machine, which I'm sure is responsible for the top thread fraying on me despite using a new needles. So I've got to find a Singer machine maintenance place somewhere in Riverside so I can get that attended to. It's past time for servicing the machine anyway!
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([personal profile] ljgeoff Sep. 14th, 2017 05:24 pm)
I'm studying for my exam on Monday. According to my Prof, one should take a break from the material every 20 or 30 min, to increase comprehension and retention. So I decided to read some papers.

If I'm reading this one right, we have about two years until we hit the point of no return (PNR) on climate change.

From: Brenda C. van Zalinge, Qing Yi Feng, Matthias Aengenheyster, and Henk A. Dijkstra. (2017) On determining the point of no return in climate change. Earth System Dynamics, 8, 707–717. https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-8-707-2017

Definitions in the introduction:

Given a certain desirable subspace of the climate system state vector (e.g. to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference) and a suite of control options (e.g. CO2 emission reduction), it is important to know when it is too late to steer the system to “safe” conditions, for example in the year 2100. In other words, when is the point of no return (PNR)? The tolerable windows approach (TWA; Petschel-Held et al., 1999) and viability theory (VT; Aubin, 2009) approaches and the theory in (Heitzig et al., 2016) suffer from the “curse of dimensionality”and cannot be used within CMIP5 climate models.

For example, the optimization problems in VT and TWA lead to dynamic programming schemes which have up to now only been solved for model systems with low-dimensional state vectors. The approach in (Heitzig et al., 2016) requires the computation of regional boundaries in state space, which also becomes tedious in more than two dimensions. Hence,with these approaches it will be impossible to determine a PNR using reasonably detailed models of the climate system.

Steaming on to the discussion...

Pachauri et al. (2014) stated with high confidence that “without additional mitigation efforts beyond those in place today, and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread and irreversible impacts globally”. If no measures are taken to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions during this century and if there are no new technological developments that can reduce GHGs in the atmosphere, it is likely that the global mean surface temperature (GMST) will be 4 ◦C higher than the pre-industrial GMST at the end of the 21st century (Pachauri et al., 2014). Consequently, it is important that anthropogenic emissions are regulated and significantly reduced before widespread and irreversible impacts occur. It would help motivate mitigation to know when it is “too late”.

In this study we have defined the concept of the point of no return (PNR) in climate change more precisely using stochastic viability theory and a collection of mitigation scenarios. For an energy balance model, as in Sect. 3, the probability density function could be explicitly computed, and hence stochastic viability kernels could be determined. The additional advantage of this model is that a bi-stable regime can easily be constructed to investigate the effects of tipping behaviour on the PNR. We used this model (with the assumption that CO2 could be controlled directly instead of through emissions) to illustrate the concept of PNR based on a tolerance time for which the climate state is non-viable. For the RCP scenarios considered, the PNR is smaller in the bi-stable than in the mono-stable regime of this model. The occurrence of possible transitions to warm states in this model indeedcause the PNR to be “too late” earlier.

The determination of the PNR in the high-dimensional PlaSim climate model, however, shows the key innovation in our approach, i.e. the use of linear response theory (LRT) to estimate the probability density function of the GMST. PlaSim was used to compute another variant of a PNR based only on the requirement that the climate state is viable in the year 2100. Hence, the PNR here is the time at which no allowed mitigation scenario can be chosen to keep GMST below a certain threshold in the year 2100 with a specified probability. In the PlaSim results, we used a viability region defined as GMSTs lower than 2 ◦C above the pre-industrial value, but with our methodology, the PNR can be easily determined for any threshold defining the viable region. The more academic case in which we assume that GHG levels can be controlled directly provides PNR (for RCP4.5, RCP6.0, and RCP8.5) values around 2050 (Sect. 4.2). However, the more realistic case in which the emissions are controlled (Sect. 4.3) and a carbon model is used reduces the PNR for these three RCP scenarios by about 30 years. The reason is that there is a delay between the decrease in GHG gas emissions and concentrations. my emphasis... I was reading this and went "wait, wuh?...

Although our approach provides new insights into the PNR in climate change, we recognize that there is potential for substantial further improvement. First of all, the PlaSim model has a too-high climate sensitivity compared to CMIP5 models. Although in the most realistic case (Sect. 4.3) we somehow compensate for this effect, it would be much better to apply the LRT approach to CMIP5 simulations. Second, in the LRT approach, we assume the GMST distributions to be Gaussian. This is well justified in PlaSim, as can be verified from the PlaSim simulations, but it may not be the case for a typical CMIP5 model. Third, for the more realistic case in Sect. 4.3, we do not capture the uncertainties in the carbon model and hence in the radiative forcing.

A large ensemble such as that available for PlaSim is not available (yet) for any CMIP5 model. However, we have recently applied the same methodology to two CMIP5 model ensembles, i.e. a 34-member ensemble of abrupt CO2 quadrupling and a 35-member ensemble of smooth 1 % CO2 increase per year. The CO2-quadrupling ensemble was used to derive the Green’s function, and then the 1 % CO2 increase ensemble was used as a check on the resulting response.

The probability density function of GMST increase is close to Gaussian for the 1 % CO2 increase ensemble but clearly deviates from a Gaussian distribution for the 4x CO2- forcing ensemble, particularly at later times. Although the ensemble is relatively small and the models within the ensemble are different (but many are related), the results for the LRT-determined GMST response (Aengenheyster, 2017) are surprisingly good. This indicates that the methodology has a high potential to be successfully applied to the results of
CMIP5 model simulations (and in the future, CMIP6). The applicability of LRT to other observables than GMST can in principle be performed, but the results may be less useful (e.g. due to non-Gaussian distributions).

Because PlaSim is highly idealized compared to a typical CMIP5 model, one cannot attribute much importance to the precise PNR values obtained for the PlaSim model as in Fig. 7. However, we think that our approach is general enough to handle many different political and socioeconomic scenarios combined with state-of-the-art climate models when adequate response functions of CMIP5 models have been determined (e.g. using LRT). Hence, it will be possible to make better estimates of the PNR for the real climate system. We therefore hope that these ideas on the PNR in climate change will eventually become part of the decision-making.

so, yeah, if I'm reading this wrong, that would be good to know
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([personal profile] ljgeoff Sep. 12th, 2017 08:51 am)
First, to get it out of the way, I did *really* crappy on my first test of the semester. I've mentioned a couple of times that I must get 81% overall in the exams to pass the course. This semester is split into two courses, and I must pass the first one to move on to the second one. A person can only fail one class; a second failure and you will not be continuing on.

So far, I haven't failed a class. I did have to drop out for a semester when I injured my knee, but that doesn't count. There are four exams, with the first three being worth 50 points each, and the fourth cumulative exam worth 75 points. I must average 81% across all four exams to pass this course.

On the first test, I scored a 70%. I've never done so poorly. It still possible for me to pass, but it'll be tough.

I really don't want to do this, Sam-I-Am. I do not like it here or there. I do not like it anywhere.


Mike asked what he could do to help me pass. I said that I might be able to pass if I moved out and only worked on this from now until December -- no kids, no housework, no Chris, no job. Which isn't possible.

The next test is next Monday, and I have a 12 hour clinical on Friday, and then work 12 hour days on Saturday and Sunday. On the other hand, I have today and Thursday off. On the other hand, laundry needs doing and I have Chris to watch.

The main problem is that I'm having a really hard time concentrating on *anything*.

I just don't know if I can do this. Worse, I really don't want to. But I figure I might as well continue on and see how far forward I can get. If I fail this class, I'll reenter in January and see if I can graduate. I'm very willful.