I had a discussion with a friend today and now I’m curious: do you people cook for yourself? Does someone cook for you? Do you buy food? What do you typically cook?

I cook most of my food when I live alone and it’s usually simple and healthy “meat+vegetables/pasta/rice” dishes, salads, eggs in all varieties and a sandwich here and there.

No poll attached, I’m interested mostly in long and unnecessarily sophisticated answers. Let the 65k character limit be useful.

Today I presented my new work for the first time. It was surprisingly easy to talk about, even though my understanding of the subject matter is not perfect.

The topic is “predicting stability of solid crystals using graph neural networks”. Far more exciting than any thermodynamics I used to do.

Today a realization struck me. A simple one, but I feel like sharing it for some reason. Envy is horrible and it is not talked about for the most part. It poisons people and hurts their relationships, while the solution is relatively simple. To not be envious of someone, it is necessary to learn to be happy for their accomplishments. It mostly works for close people, but being envious towards close people is most destructive as well.

This ability to feel joy is not “free”, it has to be learned and cultivated either in the family during adolescence or consciously later in life. And I am infinitely grateful to my family and friends who seem to have taught me that over the years.

This sounds childish now that I read it, but hey, why not. Maybe it will offset some of that gloominess of mine.

Oh well, I can’t not write, can I. Here goes 2022 in review. Hectic and unpolished because I’m lazy and excited for the day ahead and the work I need to do.

It was bloody horrible. My country started a war with a neighbor, in some sense a relative, and it keeps going. There was mobilization. Some of my close friends had to flee, but I can stay with my family. For how long? That I can’t know for sure. There are other problems in my life that weren’t solved this year and that will probably persist for a few more years.

It was magnificent. I finished bachelor degree, managed to get into masters program, worked in an office through Summer. It’s not a good lifestyle for me but the experience was well worth it. New people entered my life, some of them became friends. I arranged more parties and meetups in one year than I ever had before and probably more than I ever will. That was an overkill. I am also in a better shape that ever was and probably healthier than ever will be.

All in all, it was productive and positively horrifying. The contrast between the dreadful news and the good days spices things up, for sure. This is how our minds work.

Today I heard a saying that goes among Russian journalists: we should not humiliate ourselves with hope. Oddly inspiring, albeit gloomy.

So there is a course with no textbook or any information on it other than lecture slides. Thankfully, they are quite extensive and have a text search within pdf files. I quickly dropped a “pdfunite *.pdf merged.pdf” in the terminal and saw that the output has exactly 1769 slides in it, weighing in at almost 2 Gb. Ctrl+f takes a few seconds to parse this, even with zathura. I hope this is the last time I face such monstrosity.

In reply to @FailForward ‘s Christmas post.

New Year mood: notes, essays due on a weekend, exams in two weeks and everyone’s ass is on fire these days. Happy New Year, wish everyone to survive ‘till the next one…

(okay, okay, it’s not that bad, I’ll survive, but no cookies for me this time around)

A few typos there, but I got emotional and didn’t do a proper proof read. Maybe it’s better this way.

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I’m a city dweller. I pray on coffee and sandwiches on the go, sounds of cafes and subway soothe me and car fumes etched my lungs while I was infant, crippled my immune system for good. The city breathes, it has its own heartbeat, trembling under the streets. There are demons lurking in passages and walleys in the night, there are shadows of doubts and passions and sins imprinted in crosswalks and pave tiles.

I think it was in 2014 when I saw this the first time. The shift in people’s feelings, the surge of excitement and a feeble protest that was smothered in a matter of days. There were subtle hints that I couldn’t quite pick up at that age, unfortunately. Or maybe for the better.

Now I see with my own eyes, no goggles needed, the consequences of the past year. First, the police came. Two guys armed with pistols in every station, just standing there, talking to each other and squeezing money out of illegal immigrants on the occasion. Two more, with AK each, standing at the entrance during rush hour. I wonder if these weapons are off safety?

Every day I ride the subway and every day there is a drunk man lying on the floor. I haven’t seen this in a while in the city center. They don’t look homeless or too poor, you can usually tell by looking at the shoes and the coat. They look like they are lost, fell out of place, somehow ended up in the center instead of the suburb slum. Maybe boarded the wrong train or skipped a bus. Sometimes police takes them somwhere, sometimes they just watch, smirking.

I go to malls in the city for clothes and presents. Shop windows are shining with new goods, closed stores (h&m, cropp, uniqlo, and others) are replaced with new ones, either local or chinese-owned. Mostly the latter, but no one seems to care. It all looks very modern and quite civilized, there is even a robotic coffee kiosk at the entrance for some obscure reason. Someone couldn’t tolerate an old-fashioned coffee machine, can’t say I blame the man.

And now it’s not just the glamour and the overspending. It’s empty syringes in restrooms and fear in the eyes of the school students who go there for an ice cream when the weather is bad. I saw a few couples there over the years – boy with a boy, girl with a girl. Dyed hair, good clothes, albeit expressive, holding hands and laughing louder than considered polite. The capital was always a touch more tolerant than other cities, at least in places like this. Not anymore, not since December the first. Look over the shoulder before telling a joke, just in case. Not a paranoia, but a well-justified caution.

I will keep doing what I must, and try to tell the tale while I still can. Not because I am good at it, but because I cannot do it any other way, it seems.

I am a materials science major. It means that I have to often listen to the wonderful and promising properties of perovskites and the capabilities of various materials based on them. Every single one of these talks ends with a remark about low stability of these materials preventing the real-world usage. I can’t help but wonder, maybe these compounds are doomed to be decomposing to respective oxides after a few minutes? Will there be a point when people get off the dead, oxidized horse and move on?

This semester almost had me. The end is nigh, two more weeks to survive and a couple of exams in January, but I’m burned to the crisp. Not the first time, not the last, unpleasant nonetheless.

But I learned last week that our masters program is awkwardly structured: approx. 60% of all subjects and academic load is focused in the first semester. The rest should be a breeze to get through. Which is good, I’m now sure whether I have enough juice for another semester like this.

Working with supercomputers is a pain in the ass. It’s a miracle these things even boot up with so many devices to keep track of, but using software gets far more weird. Half the operations work on one version and another half works on the other, but only if the number of used processors is even… Maybe it’s ompi shenanigans, who knows. Weird.

Solving dependencies for conda packages used in computational chemistry is spectacularly annoying. But while I’m at it – why not write something here.

It’s been three months of work with machine learning, and over four full years of theoretical modelling overall. I learned an important lesson: the values your model predicts are not important. It is relatively easy to make a prediction using numpy, scipy and a bunch of polynomials.

It is far more important to know the applicability domain of the model, its error and trust intervals of obtained parameters. Clean the dataset, reduce the number of parameters, write out the necessary equations and try to reduce the error using first-principle approach. Modern science studies deviations and reproducibility, and rarely values themselves. Which is a good thing.

Conferences now became quite close-minded and elitist: the same people, year after year, polished presentations, barely any input at all. There are a few large ones every year, but they are expensive and quite limited number of people are allowed in. Which raises the question: does anyone know a platform or a website where one could post unpolished results and discuss them with other in hopes of feedback, corrections or even collaboration?

I’ve been working with a bunch of ML and quantum chemistry lately. At this point the hardest part is to actually come up with the problem (i.e. translate chemistry into reasonable mathematical expressions) and then make all the servers and packages work. The code and NN architecture themselves are like 10-20% of the work.

Now, a more personal note. For now I stay: to finish the education, to help the family. In some sense to see what happens next from the inside and maybe to tell the world. I will not be drafted in the near future and I think I will come up with a bailout in the next few months just to be on the safe side.

What has been happening over the last 6 months is awful and wrong and I hope it won’t last for long. The consequences will be dire for everyone. God help us, even though I do not think there is one.

An important thing most people do not consider now is the economical impact. At least 300k working men are drafted, possibly more. The state feeds them, pays them a salary (which is not that small), pays substantial compensations in case of injury or death, while the economy is deprived of the 300k of perfectly good workers. It is unlikely to cause the collapse, but the consequences will hit after a while, I’m sure.

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Well, that did not go well, eh. As some of the subscribers probably know, I’m from Russia. This platform is small enough to speak more or less openly, so here is a quick recap of what the last week looked like from the inside.

Putin declared mobilization: men with previous military experience must go to war, anywhere between 300k and 1 mil of them all over the country (the precise number is kept secret). On the first day, no clarification about categories was given, and hell broke loose. Amputees, elderly, people who never served in the army, parents of infants were drafted. Police would break into houses and catch people in subway.

The mobilization was not evenly distributed. In small towns and villages more people were drafted, to the point where protest started, especially in southern regions. In big cities it is less noticeable and smaller percentage of men are drafted, while more have the resources to flee.

The chaos subsided over the next few days. Some people are now excluded from mobilization, like students and workers of “crucial infrastructure”, including financial sector. Most employers fight for their workers and try to keep them safe. Universities and scientific institutions do the same, draw all the resources they can.

From the first day, people started running. There is a humanitarian catastrophe on the border with Georgia, people have to pay to locals even to get in lines. Airplane tickets are sold out, ones that left are priced 10k$+. Estimates say that at least 200k left for Georgia and Kazakhstan that have land border with Russia. Better estimates do not exist at the moment, but it is compared to the Exodus by some.

Many people agree to fight and even buy ammunition for their own money to have better chances of surviving. Some of them are patriots, most of them seem to be obedient to whatever ones in power say.

Well this took a good while, eh. I finished my thesis! And started working as a full-time software tester the next day. Because aint no rest for the wicked, that and the experience and skills I can get.

It’s an interesting experience after four years on university: to have a “real” job. And (for now) way less stressful than the studying used to be. There is a fixed workday, lunch, two (!) days off on weekends and plenty of time to do the job you were hired to do. And even a paycheck, not that large for now, but still eight times what my lab used to pay.

I hope this experience serves me well, even though now it breeds more trouble than it solves.

A cup of hot black coffee and some pastry make life a lot more tolerable. Add a cozy cafe with some good beats and you can almost feel alive.

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