In Which the Blog is Very VERY Late


Late is such an ugly word, surely we don’t really need it. At least not to describe an amusing little scribble like this… I’m all fairness, I had a draft by Sunday night but then life happened and here we are. If I tell you that the coming month is full of travel and therefore likely also to be filmed with late blogs will you agree to just bear with me? Or actually, don’t answer that. I haven’t looked at my blog analytics in months and have no intention of doing so anytime soon so you all can stop reading whenever you please and I’ll never know. Ah the bliss of the anonymous internet!

But let’s wander back all those many days to last Tuesday. In the maelstrom that is my work inbox, I happened to stumble across a notice advertising a talk on NLP and language variation. Yes, variation that oh so social sciencey linguistics topic that so seldom appears at computer science colloquia. I had to go. Now it wasn’t exactly the sort of variationist work I tend to gravitate towards but there were dialects and registers and I’ll take what I can get! In this era of NLP dominance I was, dare I say it, inspired by the mere possibility that I might, maybe be able to do some of the linguistics research I care about within the hot new fundable paradigm! All that lies between me and grandiose research projects is coding. Well. It may be some time before I find my way back to linguistic relevance.

Almost immediately after work, I hopped off to Hardwired NYC to learn about all the hottest new start ups in the hardware space. People always ask me why I’m there—they’re there because they make hardware or they want to make hardware—and I never know quite what to say. I usually end up settling for some variation on: I’m curious and I like to listen to clever people talk about things they’re passionately excited about. I guess that’s sufficient?

On the topic of clever people talking excitedly, I left Hardwired just before the pizza came out to meet Chuck for burgers. and math. Every now and then we end up wandering into mathematics and my near decade of no math education leaves me rather at a loss. Tuesday was matrices. I will not tell you how many hours we spent hunched over a restaurant table as I floundered about in matrix land, but you know what? I learned something and it even came in handy in journal club the following day when my brain managed to cling to the life raft we’d built the night before while trying to follow even more terribly intelligent people talking about machine learning models. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing worse than the litost of facing your own stupidity, is not facing it and leaving others to suffer your ignorance.

After another sleepless night, Wednesday finally saw me drag myself to the chiropractor. It’s good for me and I know that but it’s also not cheap nor entirely enjoyable so I’d been putting it off. Based on the discomfort I was in and the tension headache that had been teasing around my temples for most of the day, I should not have been. So after X-rays and assessments and a quick adjustment, I bounded off to dance optimistic that I was cured. Yes, I know it takes more than one treatment, but I really wanted the headache to go away before dance. I survived a dumpling dinner, waiting for my headache to fade, and a few hours of dance, waiting for my headache to fade, and then I realized, it was going no where. As the tension headache paddled towards migraine land, I caught the train to a quiet place where I could curl up in the dark until my throbbing skull decided to take a break. Because my body is delightful, that break did not arrive until the following day around noon, but I did manage to pass out, just long enough to get me through the next day.

The next day featured a VERY tired girl being very tempted to hibernate but dragging herself out for an after dinner walk anyway, because as we all know 吃饭后,百步走,生命到,九十九. So I wandered down Allen St to South St which lead me all the way up to the Williamsburg Bridge at which point, somewhere between my squeaking shoes and the mosquitos I had a mad thought: I should circumnavigate Manhattan. Yes. For some perverse reason, the idea delights me and I just might do it! Further research indicates that it will take around 10 hours and I will definitely need better shoes but, by god wouldn’t it be satisfying! Stay tuned for the moment when this idiot decides to see how much of her body she can cover in blisters and sunburn.

Friday was the start of a hackathon for Chuck so I met him for dinner up near Grand Central. I had heard much about the famous Grand Central Oyster Bar with its Gustavino tiles and oyster stew so we thought, why not? It was pretty as a picture but the service was mediocre and the food? The food was not up to scratch. The clams were giant mutants with entirely too much chew, while my oyster stew was a cream and paprika broth poured over 6 sad little oysters and nothing else. But the real piece de resistance was Chuck’s salmon eggs benedict. I do not know what they did to their Hollandaise, but it was inedible. Never have I tasted such a foul sauce, and certainly never over such woefully soggy english muffins. And so we were reminded the hard way that famous does not equal delicious.

On Saturday I was monstrously productive conquering laundry, prescriptions, grocery collection from the Essex St market (yes I spent too much money on coffee and smoked fish, no you do not need to comment on that), a few coding lessons, and another run at a piece of choreography. I felt mighty smug when I finally settled into the train that would take me into Midtown for Salsamania and, as if the world knew I was on a win streak, I had a fantastic night of dance! It wasn’t as busy as usual but I danced with all manner of folk and ended my evening with that delicious sort of dance that never wanders into predictability, not even for a second. I haven’t had a salsa night that good in a while.

Sunday morning I woke up early (well, I mean, “early”) and headed down to the depths of Brooklyn to take the undergrads for dimsum. After a 45 minute wait, we got a table and found that English was not spoken. I was the only member of the group that spoke any Chinese dialect so my rusty Mandarin got a workout. I badly need to practice.

Once fed, the undergrads dispersed and I headed down to Coney Island to see if I could catch some boardwalk salsa. There is however, something incredibly dangerous about a boardwalk in the sun. It’s like a conveyor belt to me and next thing I know I’m marching off into the sunset without nearly enough sunscreen, which is how I walked the length of the boardwalk, got a sunburn, and then skipped the salsa on account of my desperate need for shade. Yeah. I’m clever like that.

On Monday I got out of work and set off for Data Driven NYC which may be my favourite tech event in New York. I got on an F train at Jay St with a medical emergency on the adjacent platform. To take up the passengers from the now stalled A train, we were informed that we would be riding over the A line to West 4th. When we got to West 4th I could have sworn they said we were an F again but then somewhere after Penn we seemed to have turned into an E train? It was all a great adventure during which we never really knew which stop we’d visit next. I did eventually make it to my event but it was definitely the least standard route I’ve ridden in a long while.

Yesterday I left work and immediately headed off to appointment, the most exciting of which involved looking at my spinal X-rays and learning that my neck has almost no curvature! It’s pretty snazzy and the price tag on fixing it is nearly as shocking, but if it will reduce the headaches, I’ll do it, so here I am, booked into my chiropractor for the foreseeable and planning which organ I want to see to afford it. I jest, but really, it’s not a cheap adventure.

After I’d been cracked back into shape, I headed up the Heights to help Chuck pack up his apartment and then fell straight into bed. Tonight I’m off to see Don Perignon at the Lincoln Center before my usual Westie Wednesdays. If I tell you life is busy but good, would you think that was okay?

Cracked, but only a little,
The Salsa Girl


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