Last week was a whirlwind. It was the first week of classes, which normally wouldn't be a big thing, except this semester I'm teaching a course. The first couple months of summer were pretty sedate up in Canada. But the last month, leading into the start of fall term, was full of traveling. I came back from Canada for a couple weeks, then left for a week with Licia, came back for a couple days (literally) and then flew off to California for Lindsey and Alex's wedding, arriving home the night before I needed to teach my first 9:30am class. Things've settled down now, though I'm heading off to ICFP next friday.
One thing traveling is good for is getting caught up on pleasure reading. In addition to the Vinge mentioned last time, I also got to read some new C.S. Friedman. After returning from Canada I got a bunch of new games for the PS3 too. Portal 2 is good fun, though the atmosphere feels like a bizarre hybrid between the first Portal and the Fallout franchise; fitting in its way, but very strange. I've also been playing through El Shaddai and reveling in the beauty of Amaros. Unlike a lot of Japanese games, the US version lets you keep the original voice acting, which is fabulous. Dunno how good the English voices are actually; maybe next time I play through it I'll find out. And then there's Catherine: an adult romantic horror by the team who did the Persona series. It's actually a puzzle game, where you're trying to climb a tower that crumbles beneath you. Both the puzzling and the plot are top rate, as to be expected from Atlus and SMT. There are other books and other games, but I'm not feeling like doing any proper reviews just yet.
In addition to teaching, I'm taking two courses this term. Advanced Phonetics, continuing from the Phonetics course I took last spring. Back at Reed for my undergrad we didn't have any phonetics courses, only phonology; so I've been getting caught up on that, as well as filling out the requirements for the Linguistics half of my dual PhD. The other course (Q551) is an intro to cognitive neuropsychology. It's something of a psychology methods course, with a bit of neuroanatomy and the briefest mention of how the imaging technology works. Last spring I took a course on neuroscience for speech and hearing, and up in Canada I spent the summer with a bunch of computer scientists who work on optimizing the algorithms behind the imaging technology; so I'm not sure how much I'll get out of Q551, but it's a requirement for the CogSci half of the dual PhD. As a (meta)theoretical computational linguist, neuroimaging isn't really my area; but as it turns out there are some interesting problems there and plenty of room for theoretical mathematics. Even after the imaging is done, interpreting the images runs into a lot of the same statistical problems that you get in NLP. Both fields are in need of a new statistics, one which doesn't break down when you have enormous data sets. Maybe one day I'll try working on that.