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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Shania's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
10:20 pm
So it goes.

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Monday, March 29th, 2010
6:33 pm
Writer's Block: Search for intelligent life
Do you believe there is other intelligent life in distant galaxies? If no, why not? If yes, do you believe this is something to be feared and avoided or actively sought out?

Yes. It's remarkably arrogant to think otherwise considering the vastness of space. And of course we should seek it out - hell yeah, then I could enlist in Star Fleet. I find it particularly amusing that some people chose to say intelligent life in other galaxies would have tried to contact us. How do you know they haven't? Seriously, are you retarded? Assuming that other intelligent life would be able to reach us is essentially equivalent to saying we aren't intelligent life since we've been unable to escape our own solar system. On second thought, maybe we aren't...

Yep, that's all I'm saying. Now to get back to some actual writing.

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Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
11:20 pm
Grad School - Week 1
Last week I met with my advisor and learned more in depth about the research she and her students are working on. I ended up being invited to a picnic and hike with the various research groups that work together in NLP. It was enjoyable and everyone who went seemed to be friendly and interesting.

Classes started on Monday; I'm taking Information Retrieval, Machine Learning, an intro PhD course, and doing research for independent study. My advisor has been exceedingly helpful, and I find it nice that my professors know who I am already. I suppose that's not hard to do when you're one of the very few women, but I'll actually be working indirectly with one of my professors (received his PhD from Berkeley). I think I'll really enjoy his class and he seems to be intelligent, interesting, and funny. I was a little worried that maybe he'd have a bit of an ego, but so far I haven't noticed one. I'm excited to start working with both my advisor and him (and the NLP research groups in general).

On another note, I may be doing some additional work/research for pay - a surprising amount, I think.

Anyway, I was planning on writing a lot more, but I've been tired lately, so that's all for now.

Current Mood: sleepy

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Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
7:45 pm
Ugh... cell phones can bite me
I've been looking at cell phone plans lately for obvious reasons (from multiple carriers, of course), but I have yet to find one that fits what I want/need with both a reasonable price and the coverage I need.

I found a great plan (unlimited minutes/texts - including long distance) for $35 a month (no contract), but the coverage sucks. The coverage would be fine for in town, but there's no coverage pretty much anywhere else. I found about three more plans that seemed to have everything I needed, but the coverage was questionable and the pricing was not something I want to commit to for two years.

The worst part is, the one that I was about to commit to had fewer positive reviews for coverage than I was hoping for, while the one with the best confirmed coverage was more expensive for less. It's unbelievably frustrating.

Current Mood: frustrated

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Monday, June 29th, 2009
2:42 am
Hi! Billy Mays Here!
Awww... someone died now who I actually enjoyed watching. So much for his new show. :(

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Thursday, June 25th, 2009
9:58 pm
After yet another long break...
I'm leaving on a jet plane! Okay, so I'm actually driving, but that doesn't mean I can't still sing an annoying song. I have a supposedly lovely apartment (let's hope the reality is as nice as the pictures) in an amazing place to live (called the "smartest city in America," and many other wonderful things), and I have most of what I own packed into a rather large collection of boxes. Though I won't have internet or phone for a while (as I need to pay the first two months' bills - everything necessary to survive - out of pocket), I have everything else set up that is necessary for my survival. The view is gorgeous, and I'll soon have a great community to work out and get in shape in.

I've already made plans to spend my birthday in Rocky Mountain National Park (backcountry camping... none of this crowded campsite bullshit!), and I plan on getting into climbing as well. I'm very excited (if not a little bit terrified), but it may be a bit before I know anyone in the area. Hopefully I can find some way to become friends with people with similar interests.

In a little over a week (a week for all practical purposes), I'm doing what I (and many others) have always said I'd (we'd) do: getting out of this state and starting a new life elsewhere. I'm one of the first I know who's actually doing it... and I didn't let excuses hold me back!

I've never felt so accomplished in my life. :)

Current Mood: excited

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Sunday, May 31st, 2009
12:45 pm
What do you do when you realize that your entire future rests on you coming up with thousands of dollars within the next couple of weeks? Seriously... what do you do?

Current Mood: distressed

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Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
7:08 pm
Long time no post...

I graduate on Saturday, and almost immediately thereafter, I'll be going to Germany for a week. Then, about a month later, I will be moving to Boulder, CO. My future is so solid, yet so unclear at this point. I've registered for classes already, but I have yet to find a job. I'm looking for a "real" job over there, and I have the possibility to have grad school paid for by whatever job I get.

I guess we'll see how things go.

Current Mood: contemplative

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Saturday, December 6th, 2008
1:49 pm
I started a new exercise program, and it put into perspective (once again) how dreadfully out of shape I am. I was worn out after the warm up. That's sick. I did the entire thing, but it was rough. I will still keep to it (every other day, once a day when possible). I will lose weight, get in shape, and not be disgusted with my body anymore!

I figured that with so many people I know focusing on diets and exercise right now, I might as well mention my own. I've also stopped eating fast food every day, but it's so hard to find time to prepare real meals. Regardless, I'll find a way and will reach my target weight soon enough!

As for now... I'm back to homework.

Current Mood: busy

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Wednesday, October 8th, 2008
10:45 pm
Kenny and I received gifts from Iran today.

Including: a hookah, Islamic prayer beads, the coolest mouse pad ever, a bracelet, and some nuts. Awesome.

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Friday, August 22nd, 2008
11:12 pm
Amnesty International is having their Guantánamo Bay cell tour stop in St. Paul in a little over a week from now, but I can't go because school starts back up that week. In case anyone else would like to go, here are the details (as quoted from my e-mail):

"A life size replica of a Guantánamo Bay cell is coming to St. Paul the week of the Republican National Convention; August 31 - September 3. Tour the cell and find out what it's like to be illegally detained. While you're there, you'll be able to record a video to President Bush and sign Amnesty International's global petition to shut down Guantánamo and end illegal U.S. detentions.

WHEN: August 31 - September 3

WHERE: 7th Street West and Walnut Street, St. Paul, MN

Open Hours
Sunday, August 31st, 5 pm Opening Event with Larry Cox
Monday, September 1st, 10:30 am - 7:30 pm
Tuesday, September 2nd, 10:30 am - 7:30 pm
Wedensday, September 3rd, 10:30 am - 7:30 pm

Admission to the cell and all events is free."

You can also RSVP to volunteer or just let them know you'll be attending.

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Sunday, August 10th, 2008
11:27 pm
I went to Gruul's Lair for the first time tonight and both of the pieces I need/want dropped. I rolled poorly, however. Story of my WoW life. It was fun, though. :)

Current Mood: content

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Thursday, August 7th, 2008
2:41 pm
Oh yeah... and there is that...

I took the GRE last Friday. It feels like it was a long time ago, so I forgot that I haven't told people.

Current Mood: blah

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Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
3:46 am
I wish I could write.
Tuesday, July 15th, 2008
11:43 am
Future GRE test takers...
Don't bother learning proper grammar.

The analytical writing graders are NOT supposed to take grammar and spelling into consideration. The abominations I read today -- which failed to even resemble essays -- have caused me to lose even more faith in America's educational system. A fucking eighth grader could pass the GRE with flying colors. What does that say about the education that we actually get as undergrads in college?

Don't even get me started on the far-too-obvious problems present.

Current Mood: angry

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Sunday, July 13th, 2008
12:51 am
This happens every year - I practically have a panic attack when I realize that it will be another decade (if not longer) before I even have a chance to get out of the country, or hell, even see more of this country. I haven't been to very many places in the U.S., and the one time I went to the Caribbean, it was a bust. That trip would have been much more fun had I realized that "gringos" get swindled by the territory natives... in which case, I could have made sure I had a lot more money available before heading down - which would have made it impossible to go.

In any case, once I finally get done with school, I'll have a hell of a lot of debt racked up that will need to be paid off. I already owe roughly $20,000 in loans to pay for tuition (after a nice scholarship). Yikes. I'm going to be in debt for the rest of my life if I even attempt to go somewhere. If I choose to no longer go to school for my Ph.D. (or Master's) then I can get a "real" job by next summer. In that case, I'd have to wait until I've worked long enough to get vacation, and hope to high hell that I have enough money put aside to pay for my bills and the trip. I'm not going to do that... mostly because I know I wouldn't enjoy it (my job, that is). I feel the need to get out, though. To get out of this state, or this country - to get away from home and have a semi-decent vacation. I start to feel so claustrophobic, and getting away is the only remedy. Even if it means just going to Minnesota for the day.

If there's anything I fear more than anything else, it's that I'll never see the rest of this country, never see the world, never have anything more than a mediocre life. Being alone forever is a close second. I don't know what to do. I've considered (from time to time) increasing my debt further simply so that I can afford to take a year off to travel - but then I'd have to start paying off my student loans, as there would be greater than 6 months between when I left school and when I start again. Maybe I should take a month to see one other place - but that still requires putting myself further in debt. I need to get out of here, but I don't have the time or money to do so. It's just too much.

Current Mood: panicked

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Saturday, June 28th, 2008
12:58 pm
This past Thursday I went to the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities) for a site visit, and the CS department was very kind to me. I was able to speak to several graduate students (or other students doing research there), meet a few faculty to ask questions, and see the labs where they work. I especially liked the visualization lab (virtual reality, anyone?!) and the NLP (natural language processing) labs. This is a good thing, as I hope to be doing research in NLP - actually, the research project I began this summer is in that realm of study.

I've learned some interesting things over the summer, and I now have some recommended open-source software for spoken dialog on my computer. Though I won't actually be developing anything yet, it was fun just to play around with it. :)

In any case, the visit to the university has reconfirmed my desire to continue to graduate school, and I'm very excited to be doing so! I just need to make sure that I manage my time effectively, as that has always been my problem with getting things done nicely.

Just because I like it. :) I'd prefer the kittens.

Current Mood: excited

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Sunday, June 22nd, 2008
6:07 pm

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Monday, June 2nd, 2008
3:54 pm
I totally won Jeopardy today (well, playing along with the categories selected). As it turned out, one of the categories was "Computer Terms" and it was clear that nobody playing knew a thing about computers. The category was selected twice until it was the only one left, at which point one of the Daily Double's appeared beneath a question asking what the 'i' and 'o' in BIOS stand for. I nearly cried when the woman got it wrong. I would have doubled my money and kicked some serious ass. How disappointing.

Current Mood: annoyed

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Friday, May 23rd, 2008
4:12 pm
I washed my car two days ago, and it's already covered in bird shit again. They like to land on it, crap, and fly away.

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