Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I'm slowly recovering from the three conferences I visited in seven days: one large physics educators conference, one more tightly-focused physics education research conference, and one mathematical psychology conference. (That last one was mainly because it was held in DC and I just couldn't stop conferencing, apparently.) And I won't bore you with any more academic details.
I recently received an iPod shuffle as a gift. I'm enjoying listening to music as I walk down the street, but until yesterday I was always careful to load whole albums and listen to them in order, neglecting the whole "shuffle" part of it. My question: are you ever in the mood for a twelfth century chant followed by Frank Sinatra? My answer: only if you have a 3-minute attention span. But I've decided to take the plunge, because the Shuffle is really made to well, shuffle, so I'm trying to embrace the musical stream of consciousness, as it were. When this results in an inability to concentrate on any one topic for more than 180 seconds and I fail out of school, I'll blame iPod.
I watched the movie Ratatouille a second time this week and let me say, I am astounded by their detailed portrayal of food in the movie. When the cooks drop an herb in the soup, you can tell if it's thyme or basil. Amazing! I recommend it as a Styling movie, and one that you can watch with your kids.
I've only got seven workdays left in my summer. Then it'll be three glorious weeks of spending time with family and visiting Rome. Oh, and I'll probably find time to get married during those three weeks.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Learning important stuff

Please forgive me - this will be a quick post, without any more to come until probably next week. I'm in Canada for a conference. Specifically, I'm in Edmonton, which (for those of you not in the know) is very, very far away from where I live and yet still on  the same continent. It took a long time to get here, so long that I finished the book that was supposed to last me the entire week and instead I had to do actual work.

I have to say that as an American, Canada is the worst of both possible worlds. This is not their fault; the country (so far as I have explored it during this trip, with only my trips between dorm and conference center :) is lovely. But it's not foreign enough compared to America for it to feel exotic, yet it's different enough to be annoying. For example, they have the same boring big box stores, yet you have to struggle with unfamiliar money. It looks the same as the Midwest here (and they speak with the same long o vowel) but there's a 3% exchange fee every time I charge something. I had to go through customs, but the airlines don't really consider it foreign, so those new annoying fees for extra bags apply, just like on domestic flights.

But don't think I spend all my time complaining. The weather is sunny and cool and I'm having a great time. I should also mention how much I'm learning, in case my advisor (who shelled out big bucks on her grant to let me come) is reading this. Hearing new talks, check! Making professional connections, check! Gaining much education on your dollar, check! (Please let me go next time, too!)

Thursday, July 10, 2008


The old bathroom...The new bathroom...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Vintage clothes, in a way

A good friend just defended his thesis (and graduated! Congratulations, Doctor!). He wore a suit and tie, which isn't that unusual, although the field of physics is not known for its sartorial excellence. He did make one distinct (though subtle) fashion statement. The tie he wore was also the same one he wore to his 8th grade graduation, high school graduation, and college graduation. Does anyone else have a piece of clothing that they've owned for 15 years (and that you still wear)?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Construction Zone, Part 2

In the DC area it's rather common for people to remodel or add to their houses rather than upgrading to a bigger or newer model because land (and proximity to the city) are in short supply. I have recently been reminded that I would never survive a remodel if I were ever to attempt such a thing. Andrew painted the bathroom and hallway last week, and even though these are the two most sparsely furnished rooms in our house, displaced belongings filled the narrow walkways to our bed. The disorder lasted on a week or two, but it makes my insides itch. I avoided being in the house when possible and tried to look forward to the pretty walls to come.

I think I've always been a neat person. At one point, when my brother and I needed to share a bedroom for several months, I remember stretching a jump rope across the floor to show him where his belongings could sit (on his side) and where they could not sit (on my side). And I've continued to prefer my surroundings to be orderly. (Those who have shared housing with me may prefer choicer terms, perhaps referencing psychological classifications, but this isn't, after all, their blog.) So, if we were ever to remodel our home, I think I would have to leave on a very long trip and not return until every scrap of leftover lumber was removed.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

That's "Sir" to you.

I earned a promotion last week. Sadly, there is little money involved but I get a different pip on my collar. This is because I completed my dissertation proposal, which is basically a miniature version of what my dissertation will be. I wrote a paper on what I plan to do and how, along with a sample of the data analysis I've done so far. Then I gave a talk to the PhD's that will likely be on my committee, and they gave me lots of feedback on what I should do as I write my dissertation over the next two years. In my case, this also corresponds to my reclassification as a Level 3 Graduate Student, otherwise known as a Doctoral candidate This means a $100 a year raise, which is about $6 more per month after taxes. That two whole cups of coffee! Furthermore, because we have assigned Starfleet ranks to all the positions in our research group, I have also earned a promotion from Lieutenant, junior grade to full Lieutenant.