Saturday, April 29, 2006

I won!

I won my race today. I can't remember the last time I won a race. I know I won a cross country race at Dover in high school, and I won the Fun Run in Deer Isle when I was 12, and I'm not sure if that was the last time. In any case, I did so today, which was nice.

Tactically, I ran a pretty good race. I wanted to run 98 seconds per lap, which would be 20:30 (11 seconds faster than last week) for the whole thing. I started the race in second-to-last place, which is what I always do, because races always go out too fast. My first lap was 96, so it was good I was second to last and not anything ahead of that.

The second lap I stayed in second-to-last place, because the people I was running with seemed to be going a pretty good pace for me. The lap was 99, which was fine, so I stayed with them. On the third lap, though, the pace seemed to be lagging, and when I went by Dusty he didn't even give me my split, but just said something like "come on now, make a move."

So at the beginning of the fourth lap, I surged and passed three people right in a row. The third one passed me right back, which was weird -- who does that? -- so I waited a few meters and then passed her again, thoroughly this time. That lap was faster, 97 or so.

Now I was running directly behind three girls from Union college. About 30 meters ahead of us was another girl from Union college and one from Vassar. The Vassar girl had gone out in the lead, with the Union girl close behind, but they were fading slowly and the four of us were gaining on them.

I ran a few laps with the Union girls, and eventually just ran up between them and, weirdly, they moved over and I just passed them right in the middle of their pack, rather than having to run all the way out around them as I expected I would. Two of them dropped back, but one of them stayed right behind me. At one point I think she tried to pass me, but I moved out in the lane so as to make it a bit more difficult, and apparently that was enough deterrant.

I caught up to the two frontrunners with the Union girl (Janie) right behind me, and picked off the Vassar girl and then the other Union girl (Casey). Janie stayed with me, but the Vassar girl dropped back, so that it was just Casey and Katie and me with about three laps to go. At this point Casey dropped back a bit so that it was just Janie and me.

I will interrupt this thrilling narrative to explain one thing. Now usually, in most sports, you don't know the names of your competitors, unless you're one of those people who obsessively memorizes the identities of everyone on the other teams. But when you run a long race, say anything over a mile, you get to know the names of the people you're running against because you hear people shouting at them all the time.

In the case of Union, they had two coaches who were shouting at them. One of the coaches just said their names and some encouraging statements, but the other one was more distinctive. Every time we rounded the end of the curve 100 meters after the finish line, he would tell Janie that she had "heart." "You've got heart, Janie, that's what you've got!" Apparently she had more "heart" than I did, and this was going to be the deciding factor in the race. He also shouted with two laps to go, "you've got more left than she does!" referring to me. But he was wrong.

I ran the last full lap in 91 seconds, putting about 20 meters between me and Janie. For some comparison, my average pace for the whole race was about 6:32 per mile, and that lap was at a pace of 6:04 per mile. So it was a lot faster. And in the last 200 meters, I ran on my toes, so that last 200 was pretty fast.

Now, in the results, it has me getting second.
Women 5000 Meter Run
Name Year School Seed Finals
1 Buchsbaum, Nilly Vassar 18:32.00 19:22.47
2 Davis, Diana Williams 20:30.00 20:29.49
3 Wolkowicz, Jane Union 20:30.00 20:47.11
4 Kohut, Casey Union 21:50.00 20:56.77
5 Bertasso, Karen Union 21:50.00 21:14.57
6 Jackson, Ashleigh Colb- Sawyer 20:58.00 21:26.12
7 Palaudi, Jen Union 21:00.00 21:30.27
8 Leister, Hollie Rpi 21:35.25
9 Thomas, Dana Vassar 20:45.00 21:36.06
10 Mafrici, Steph Rpi 23:10.06
-- Shah, Lisetta Williams 20:45.00 DNF
I am not so sure that this is true, though I have no idea how the results could be wrong. After about three laps I surveyed the runners ahead and determined that I had a chance at winning, seeing only the Vassar girl (the one I passed) and the Union girl ahead. The only explanation that would make sense is that the Vassar girl was one lap ahead when I passed her, so that although I seemed ahead of her, I was actually behind. However, this would require her to have lapped me first, which did not occur, since no one passed me the whole race except the girl who passed me back in the beginning as I explained. Alternatively, they could have clocked her as finished after 6.5 laps, but that also seems unlikely. Thus, I have no good explanation for this odd thing in the results.

Of course, it's not that awesome to win a slow race. You can look at the seed times and see that the whole field was very slow, with the exception of the girl from Vassar. But it's much better to win a slow race than to lose one, and that is what I did.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Happy birthday to my dad

It is his birthday for approximately nine more minutes.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

No more psych

I dropped the psych major for good yesterday. I figure I've taken just about all the psych I want to, and it's not worth taking the last three to finish the major. The three more I'd need include the senior seminar, which would mean a whole class of only psych majors, and I've come to realize that I don't really enjoy classes with all psych majors. So I'm not going to take it.

Please don't take this to mean that I am no longer an authority on all things psychological -- naturally, I remain so. If you want to know anything about social, educational, statistical, cognitive, decision-based, or clinical psychology, you just ask, becuase I know all about those.

This leaves me with some space in my schedule next year. I was thinking about doing the maritime studies concentration instead, but that would require three courses, chosen from just a few, and if I did that I would have the same problem of having to take three courses. So I'm not going to.

My schedule for next fall is as follows:
400-level math course
200-level economics course with an asterisk
another course
I have currently signed up for a senior seminar called math modeling, an econ course called Economics of Developing Countries (the one in which I considered two pitchers of Gatorade) and intro to geosciences / environmental studies. I am not sure about that last one. For one thing, the lab is on Monday, which means I wouldn't be able to go to half of the colloquia. For another, I did a lot of geosciences at the Mountain School and Williams-Mystic, so I don't know how many new things I'd learn. But the professor sounds good. We shall see; I still have a few more days of preregistration.

I have opened comments again. Please comment away.* Perhaps you can tell me what courses to take.

* Please comment away with discretion, i.e., if there is a rule against your commenting, please refrain from commenting, so that I can keep comments open for everyone else. You know, all those people who like to comment. Yeah, them.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Larry Summers

Brian: Have you ever actually encountered any obstacles as a female in math?
Me: Well, this one time I was walking to math class, and I tripped over my second x chromosome.
Brian: That's what I thought.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Spikes and a PR

Yesterday I got new spikes. We had ordered them in the mail, and they arrived yesterday, which was very convenient seeing as how today was my last race of the season.

This is the first time I have ever had spikes. They replace the flats I got in the fall of my senior year of high school, which were the first flats I ever had. Before that, I raced in sneakers.

Here is a picture comparing my flats to my spikes.

When I told my mother I got spikes, she thought I had just gotten the little sharp metal thingies and attached them to my old shoes. But this is not the case. "Spikes" are shoes with screw holes so that you can attach little sharp metal thingies to them.

Here is a picture of the bottom of my flats as compared to the bottom of my spikes.

Today I ran the 5k on the track for the first time ever. I ran a PR, because the first time you run something, your time is a PR, since it is the fastest you have ever run it.

It was also a relatively fast time. I ran really slow last week, so my goal was to run at least as fast as 7-minute miles. My first mile was 6:35, and my second was apparently 6:50. I ran the last mile faster, and had a lot left to kick at the end, meaning that I should have run faster the rest of the time. I missed qualifying to continue my season by 27 seconds (I ran 20:41; qualifying required under 20:15), but 27 seconds is kind of a lot, so I am not terribly saddened. I will certainly run my second 5k of all time even faster. This will probably be at RPI in a couple of weeks. It will be stellar.

And now that I have spikes, if anyone attacks me, I can fend them off with 14 little sharp metal thingies. Awesome.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My presidential speech

This evening I ran for president of the Spencer cluster. This is my speech.
My name is Diana Davis, class of 2007. I live on an island in Maine, I spent last semester at the Williams-Mystic program, and I am running for President on the platform of Mutiny.

What does the platform of mutiny mean?

It does not mean that we will fight actively against Anchor/Cluster/Neighborhood/Williams housing, because the past year has shown that fighting would never be successful.

Mutiny means that we will simply continue to exist, as though Anchor/Cluster/Neighborhood/Williams housing did not exist.

We will have parties. We will have IM soccer teams. We will have dinners with professors.

But if you support the platform of mutiny, our parties and IM soccer teams and dinners will be just that – parties and IM soccer teams and dinners. Anyone can come, even if they don't live in the Spencer Anchor/Cluster/Neighborhood/Williams house.

Remember that the question is not, “Will our protest make a difference?”

Instead, ask yourself, "Is Anchor/Cluster/Neighborhood/Williams housing good for Williams?" And if the answer is no, ask yourself what you can do about it.

If you believe that Anchor/Cluster/Neighborhood/Williams housing is good for the college, please vote for a candidate who embraces the system.

But if you do not believe that Anchor/Cluster/Neighborhood/Williams housing is good for the college, vote for a candidate who has the same beliefs you do.

Remember, over 60% of Williams has consistently opposed Anchor/Cluster/Neighborhood/Williams housing, according to polls from the Record.

And yet the college put the system into place.

Why did you pick into an Anchor/Cluster/Neighborhood/Williams house?

Because if you didn't, you wouldn't have housing next year.

Why are you here tonight, to vote for Anchor/Cluster/Neighborhood/Williams housing representatives?

Because if you didn't come tonight, you couldn't have dinner; the dining halls are closed to all of us.

Williams has forced this system upon you, but it cannot force your vote.

If you believe that Williams would be better off without Anchor/Cluster/Neighborhood/Williams housing, vote for the platform of munity.

Thank you.
I didn't win, fortunately. I haven't the slightest idea what I would have done if I had. I suppose that being on the ballot would have made me get significantly more votes, but then I would have been more likely to win, and that would have been a bad thing, because I have no interest in planning parties, and I oppose purchasing alcohol for underage students (or for anyone, really), which, uh, might not have made me the best president for a lot of my consituency. Anyway, for the purpose, it was a pretty good speech, according to people who listened to it. And some people actually did vote for me, which is cool.

For more discussion, see Mutiny with me, a discussion on WSO.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Berry essay update

Evan helped me with my permissions. It turns out folders are supposed to be 0755 instead of 0744. I mention this so that you see it is a purely technical problem. 0744 always worked for me before, and I thought that was kind of the default, so I used it. But I'll use 0755 from now on.

Anyway, here's my essay. Figure 1 and Figure 2 also work now, but they're linked at all the relevant points in the essay, anyway. The End.

I disabled anonymous comments, in case the bold message in the upper left didn't grab your attention. The reasons for this are obvious to those to whom they are obvious, and completely obscure to everyone else. Sorry. Feel free to sign up for a username on blogger; you might need it someday anyway. Too bad blogger doesn't accept TypeKey, really.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Pictures with light are better than those without

Yesterday I took pictures at our track meet at UMass-Lowell. Many of them turned out great. They are much better than the ones from indoor track, because there is actually light outside. In order to get the indoor track pictures to be exposed the right amount -- i.e., not extremely dark -- I had to use a really long shutter speed, which made pictures blurry, and use the maximum amount of flash, which meant that if I waited a split second too long to trip the shutter and the person was too close to me, they turned out all washed out.

Outside, there is the sun, and the sun makes everything so much easier. I could take pictures with a reasonable shutter speed, like 1/640 instead of 1/80. It was awesome. I've put a few below. They don't look that good in tiny size, but they look pretty good at full size or at some reasonable size where you can actually see the pictures.

This morning my run was in three states. You can guess which ones, considering Williamstown's geography. Also, yesterday I got a sunburn, and today I threw a snowball. New England is awesome.

When leaving comments, please leave your name, so that I know who you are. Thanks.

Friday, April 14, 2006

A stellar essay

By popular demand -- honestly -- I am posting my recent essay. Unfortunately, when I tried to upload it to WSO, I apparently changed all my permissions so now you get an ugly Forbidden error message when you try to go there, and I can't figure out how to fix it. This didn't happen when I uploaded things to the XC site. Weird.

So in the meantime I have posted the paper and the first two figures on my extra free space. It's not wso/~ddavis; it's not; it's not even -- no, it's That is the pinnacle of icky web space, in my opinion. There are tons of ads. It is kind of sad.

I don't know how to make hyperlinks in PDF documents, so I had to make it an html document. (If I could make it into a pdf, I would, and then there would be no ads.) Please note that (a) the figures are PDFs, so don't get all bothered when Adobe loads, and (b) I have not uploaded Figure 3, which is kind of crucial. But just imagine the curve that is added to Figure 2 to make it into Figure 3. You can do that, right? Right?

Berries and Exercise: Simply Complex
Figure 1
Figure 2

The popular demand was because I got a perfect score on this essay, minus three points for my margins being the wrong size, which I noticed too late to fix them. So it goes.

This essay shows why you might be driven to exercise more than you actually should to achieve your maximum performance. It starts with a hypothetical bird eating hypothetical berries, and ends with an example about running performance, and uses the same analysis for both, which is kind of neat. Take a look.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

My dream room

Last night I picked into my dream room, the room I have been wanting to live in since I got to Williams. It is in West. It is on the fourth floor. And it faces Bronfman.

Those three characteristics are exactly what I wanted; ergo, I have the perfect room. For me.

It is the perfect room for me because I want to be in West where it is quiet, where I won't have idiot suitemates who blast music from their computers through their open room door when they have a party in the common room, like the suitemates I had in sophomore year. Hip-hop music. It is so nice and quiet in West that there are signs on the doors asking people to not slam them between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am. 10 pm! Now that's what I'm looking for.

It is the perfect room for me because I want to be on the fourth floor so that I have to climb lots of stairs every day. I have lived on the second floor everywhere I've ever lived -- Madbury, Deer Isle (both the loft and the upstairs room in the new cabin), the Mountain School, Japan, Sage A, Mark Hopkins, and Mystic -- until winter study of this year. (Please disregard the abysmal quality of the web pages I created almost four years ago.) Now I live on the third floor, which has a way better view than the second floor, and plus, I get more exercise walking up an extra flight of stairs every time I go to my room. This will only increase next year, which is good since I will only be about 200 feet from Bronfman.

But the best thing about this fourth-floor room in West is that it has an amazing view. West is already at the top of the hill, the geologic zenith of the Williams campus. West College, after all, used to be known as "Williams College" -- it had the classrooms, offices, everything necessary to run the college -- so it had to be at a point of strategic advantage. West College is so high up that windows on the fourth floor look over the tops of the adjacent buildings. Clark and Bronfman present no issue; the view of the mountains is unobstructed. The view, specifically, is of Stony Ledge, where the Mountain Day celebration takes place every fall.

Actually, I've not yet seen the view, as I visited the room last night at about 8:30 pm, when it was dark out and the occupant's shades were drawn. However, I have every expectation for an even better view than that from the window of my winter study room.

I would like to end with the Letter to Mold that Hunt Hobbs '09 wrote near the end of our trip to Biloxi:
It has been a good two weeks hanging out with you in Biloxi. I had lots of fun. I had lots of fun killing you, you nasty pestilent s--t.

I take pleasure in hearing your tortured screams as I wirebrush your smudgy, earth-toned excuse of a body into an afterlife which I am sure for you will be a fiery, painful oblivion.


Give me a neatly folded rag and I will end you. I hate you with all my fury.



The only thing worse than you is being trapped in a burning building with four zombies, a swarm of angry bees, and my ex. If you were't a microscopic organism, I would kick you in the nuts, over and over and over.

Be prepared for total war. You will cease to exist and Hands On Gulf Coast will stand gloating as the last evidence of your worthless, sickening life vanishes undear a coat of white latex paint.


You are vulgar, obscene. You have poor taste in music. You shoot hoops like my grandma. You wear tacky ties to gatherings. Your collection of 80's memorabilia is not well organized.

Go to hell. Give Satan my regards and a respiratory ailment.

Yours sincerely,
Hunt, of course, used the actual words, without the dashes.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Referral humor

I like to check the referrals to my web pages to see if anyone has linked to my pages and such (this is very rare). I also like to look at what search terms directed someone to my pages. Today's search terms were the best I have seen in the recent past.
1. My page is the second result for bowsprit netting.

2. My page is the fifth result for, of all things, home improvement television program 2006 big mama house new orleans.

3. My personal favorite: Suppose you just got a cow and you want to raise it, but you don't know how so you need a tutorial on the subject, and you'd like to find a free tutorial, if possible. You might search for cow raising tutorial free, in which case the first result would be my html tutorial. Clearly.
In other words, if you do such a search and click on "I'm Feeling Lucky," you'll be happily directed to my html tutorial, rather than a tutorial on raising a cow. Gosh, I love Google. For real.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A few updates

I have been too busy to write an interesting and cohesive post, so I am just going to put a few brief updates until I have more time to do such things as write blog posts.

Today was the HRUMC XIII. I met Ken Ono. I also gave a talk about eliminating "monsters" (i.e. curves that obviously wouldn't be minimizing) with elementary reasoning. It went quite well, and it was much better than when I practiced yesterday, due to my giving the motivation behind why we would want to eliminate monsters in the first place. Here was my talk:
TITLE: Isoperimetric Regions in Sectors of the Gauss Plane: Eliminating Monsters
Diana Davis, Williams College

ABSTRACT: The cheapest way to enclose area in the Euclidean plane is by a circle, but what if the plane has varying density? What if we only consider a pie-shaped sector of the plane with varying density? I`ll show how to eliminate shapes (such as the circle) that we now know cannot be minimizing, and give conjectures and evidence for the best shape.
Next year I am writing a thesis with Professor Adams. His research is in knots and hyperbolic 3-manifolds, and as you may recall, he is teaching my tiling tutorial next semester. Since I don't know about 3-manifolds, I'll probably do either knots or tiling. My particular question is still very much up in the air.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Picturing Katrina

It's really hard to describe the scene in Biloxi, and harder still to imagine what it looked like seven months ago. When I was looking for the address for Hurricane Camp, I came upon a Flickr album of pictures of the area. This slideshow (requires Flash) is a set of really artful pictures that focus on details of the destruction and unimaginably diverse objects that washed out of homes and businesses. This one focuses on the houses and what Hands On does inside of them. This one is simply titled "Katrina Devastation," and gives a pretty good picture of just that.

The water washed away the walls and everything inside this McDonald's...

...and yet left Ronald McDonald standing.

What houses looked like inside afterwards, and what they look like before Hands On helps out:

Imagine if that was your house, and your personal objects. It's inconceivable, and truly devastating.

A typical enough scene, though the piles of debris are smaller now:

Imagine if that was your street, and your house and those of your neighbors.

Maybe this is what Rebecca had in mind when she said, "I'd be bound to find something very interesting."

Then again, maybe not.

All credit for the above photos goes to the people in the hyperlinks above (I didn't bring a camera to Biloxi).

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Road trip

I had a plane ticket to fly from New Orleans to JFK (NYC), but I figured that I've flown a lot before, and I know what flying is like, so I'd rather do something I've never done before: namely, drive across the country nonstop. There were some transportation issues anyway -- we were going to have to fit nine people and tons of luggage into a seven-passenger van for a couple of hours -- and this guy named Mike, a senior at Williams, was driving back, so I figured I'd drive back with him and see the country and whatnot. Here is a picture of where we went:

(I saved it as a gif but Blogger wouldn't upload it, so here we are with a jpeg. Too bad.)

It was really great. I'm glad I did it. I missed out on two days of volunteering work in Mississippi, but I saw a lot of the country, got experience driving on the highway in traffic, at night, at night in the rain, at night in the fog, and at night with no other traffic. So it was a good experience. Here is what I learned.
The south is flat. The north is hilly. The middle of the country is dark.
I also learned that people in Georgia drive alone. There was one "high-occupancy vehicle" (HOV) lane that required two people to be in the car and five that were regular lanes, and the HOV lane was not very popular. And all the cars in the other lanes had only one person in them, for real.

We neglected to avoid Atlanta, and thereby got caught in, you know, the 3 pm rush hour. Obviously. So we decided to take 84 and 81 instead of 95, so as to avoid Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.

We drove in shifts. When I agreed to go, I told Mike I didn't like driving. He said I wouldn't have to drive very much. But then I did anyway. It worked like this, in case you wondered:

9 am - 5 pm: Mike
5 pm - 11 pm: Me
11 pm - 3 am: Mike
3 am - 6 am: Me
6 am - 9 am: Mike

There was a time change over the course of this drive, in which we lost an hour. Then we got home and Daylight Savings Time happened, or ceased to happen, or whatever, so we lost another hour. The injustice of it all.

Plus, I got a whole day to sleep (yesterday -- because I only got about two hours of sleep in the car) and a whole day to do my homework (today). The kids who took the plane are just getting back now. And me? I'm all moved in, and almost all done with my homework. How awesome.