Sunday, June 08, 2008

Once More Unto the Breach

Seems like I'm moving blogs again .... finally going to keep this one semiregularly updated, particularly as I'm now a graduate of UC Berkeley with a BA in Astrophysics. So, faithful few (any?), head on over to for more prattlings and ponderings from this end of things.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Six Months Past

Wow, looks like I really havn't updated this blog in a while. I suppose its been a combination of "busy" and ... well, just busy. Even my LJ hasn't seen quite the update-action it should. Last updated in May? Oh my.

So lets see. The summer was, actually, a lot of fun. Shortly after the May post, we had the Great Egg-Drop Experiment, in which Sara and I won. Yeah, shortly before that Sara returned from her trip to Costa Rica and was back at living in the Mansion (she makes an excellent housemate, for the record). The summer flew by ... the first half was dominated by D&D with Rob and Alyssa before their move to Santa Cruz, much hanging out with the Fabulous Melanie Lieu (now in Korea), an awesome camping trip, oh, and class and research were thrown in there. I managed to complete the image segmentation routines for Kepler, and more-or-less (using Ms. Mintz as a medium) asked out a girl I met two nights prior (turns out she left the state for good two days later. Sigh. Temporary residence in CA). Celtic Studies was actually useful, Classics a bit dull. Much hanging out with Ms. Mintz et al. There was a wee bit of drama, but nothing worth noting. I would have to say, though, this was definiately the best summer I've had in a very long while. I also ended up purchasing a desert kingsnake for myself, which I named (with some help from Sara and Jessica) Heisenberg.

We hit September. School's started, Pancho is MIA and Kepler is put on hold. Its not too bad, though 105 is in Goldman at 8am and the professor is mediocre at best. 110 is interesting (more on that later), NE looks to be interesting but .... different .... German a bit more intimidating than I was betting on, and, of course, the DeCal is going great. My 21st comes and goes without incident -- definitely my most sober birthday at Cal. Natasha and Jessica and I begin a new D&D campaign, which is still ongoing. 111 is busy as all hell, much as last time, but at least the experiments are a damn sight more interesting.

October rolls around, still bloody hot, and its time to start graduate school applications, midterms and homework are going at full force, and who has time to breathe? Certainly not I. Things go to hell in a handbasket for a bit, calm down, and its the little things that keep me going.

GREs, reserach, midterms, problem sets, and everything has blurred the past two weeks together. Arguably the most notworthy thing in my mind of the past month and a half has been the delay of my Zune 80 and Opteron 2350 -- both of which have been ordered but have been delayed.

This week is the first time I can breathe in a while. Still, though. Much to do. Tomorrow, I have to give Dr. Padian my CV & letter of recommendation stuff, go the the Vivarium for Heisenberg (possibly with Sarah), possibly work on vector graphics with Sara (yes, I am aware of the horrible confusion of knowing both a Sarah and a Sara. The former is "110 girl" and the latter "salamander Sara", for lack of better descriptions that aren't synopses of my personal interactions with them), and D&D in the evening. Then, this weekend will *only* have two problem sets. Which is actually a reduction from average.

I imagine my next post (regardless of me vowing to update more) will be either about the fairer sex, my next semester's schedule, or research. Hm. Along those veins, next semester will be my lightest at Cal with a "mere" 15 units, and maybe I'll post some research pictures later.

Also, I'm not sure if I'll startup a wordpress on . Kyle screwed around with the domains and such, so fine -- I now have my own domain and storage space (where the Raptors and Sea Monsters site is, incidentally).

I think that's it for now.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Radar Blip

So, upon retrospection, I've realized that this semester is the first time I've ever made some sort of footprint on the greater world.

I've made my first steps into the world of research. With the Kepler project, some of my work will not only have some nonzero impact on the greater scientific world, but on a particular NASA mission! Needless to say, this is amazing beyond belief.

My paleo paper was apparently *really good*. There's an outside chance that with enough correspondence with Matt Wedel, it may become publishable, according to Professor Padian anyway.

Besides dabbling in Paleontology and Astrophysics, I was contacted earlier in the semester by the Mitt Romney campaign to be a technical advisor. For a primary campaign -- one of the four men that might become the presidential candidate for the Republican party. I turned him down on moral (word choice?) grounds, but the fact remains I was so approached.

My work in general has become noticed: I'm consistently good at computers and websites, build them carefully. I was asked to help found a business with someone. An all-in-one solution, site building and computer repair. Because of my workload, I turned it down, but I was asked to get back to them ... and I was a first choice.

Most recently, I missed a phone call during my final from Microsoft. I was contacted by name and asked to call back, and I left a message (I got an extension to a human being. When does this happen?). By bloody MICROSOFT. By name. That's rather nifty! Probably not anything much, but still .... I get a kick out of it.

Somehow in the past six months, I've become more than a nobody. When did this happen?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sun's Out

So, a very long semester is drawing once more to a close. Its 1:30 AM, so, of course the right thing to do is to write a blog entry! Even though I posted on much of this earlier, I imagine there will be some re-cap.

While I know I said just under a year ago that, quote, "there is no way in HELL I'm ever doing 20 units again", I did it. I had high hopes; perhaps, without 111 it wouldn't be so bad! I really enjoyed German 1, so why wouldn't German 2 be great? GR was bound to have a bunch of Astro in it. And really, while it was hard to do 20 units, last year wasn't bad .... in fact, I'd argue it was the *nicest* semester, even if the hardest. And Cosmology! Possibly research!

The semester started with the lull before the storm. January was tranquil, mostly spent with Sara, Marya, and fellow Mansioners. Games and D&D abounded, and much time was spent with my two favorite women. January didn't last long enough, and February just started off *bad*. After about 2 weeks of 8AM German, I remembered that I just didn't learn at 8AM, and that it took about 1-2 weeks to sink in. If I didn't memorize-regurgitate for the test, I did poorly ... and if I did, it wasn't really helpful because it was just memorize-regurgitate. I quickly found that the nominally good idea of 75% homework and 25% project for Cosmo was bad ... it ultimately resulted in 9 homework assignments over the semester, each one worth about 8% of my grade. That's right. Homework assignments that were half or a third of a midterm in other classes. Oy. So, of course, GR got the tail end of things, being due 24 hours after Astro. But it was more mathematical (and the questions in class were mathematical) than I'd been wishing, which took a toll. Comp lit was a breadth, but it was taking way too much time for a PNP class. WAY too much time, too much reading and too much money in obscure books. It wasn't all bad -- Paleo was excellent, having a research position satisfying, and Cosmo was fun and interesting if stressful. I had a lot of fun with my paleo paper, as a matter of fact -- and Matt Wedel, who works on Sauropods, thought it was pretty good, and wants to talk with me more about it later.

Then the second week of February hit. In close proximity, I had a midterm, Liz had a motherboard faliure, Marya broke up with me, and I managed to get a shin splint that I didn't treat and would last for about two months. Things began to pretty much snowball from there. Thankfully, Dr. Padian lent me a spare laptop of his, which was a godsend (though I freaked out when its HDD failed, but I replaced it and reinstalled all the software and such for him). Honestly, without it I probably would not have a passing grade this semester; the two weeks I was computerless I was spending about 10-12 hours on campus a day. As a point of fact, Liz didn't return till last week -- it took 2.5 months in all, because they were waiting on a motherboard. Hey, look, I was right ...

All of this took its toll; I fell a little behind and had to spend all spring break playing catch-up, then the GRE was up and coming ... I'm still waiting on those scores. It finally all came to a head the past two weeks, when I had multiple projects and papers and midterms, all in quick sucession. I feel like I'm somewhat close to burn out - but the semester is done, and Friday's final will be the only true challenge to overcome. The paper for Comp Lit shouldn't be too bad, German will be meh, and Paleo should be easy.

This isn't to say its been all bad. Kit and I are finally going to host our DeCal next semester; "Raptors and Sea Monsters -- Mesozoic Marine Reptiles and Saurischia". I may get paid over the summer to do some research, though I'm a wee bit behind right now. Friday I'm going to take my driving test, and if I pass it, I will finally have my driver's license (though I don't anticipate using it much). Summer school shouldn't be too bad; and I will get breadths out of the way. Sara will be living with us (Well, I suppose with "me" for June) over the summer, and with the first class being at nine during the first session and not having class till the afternoon for the second, I'll start getting healthy amounts of sleep again, be able to do more research, and be able to start going to the gym again. Next semester I will be taking three physics classes including 111, but 111 and 105 will be with Peter. I'm not sure if I'll know anyone in 110, but its E&M and that shouldn't be too bad. A bunch of friends will be in the DeCal, 111 is my only MWF class (so if we finish early, I'll have MWF off), I'll be taking NucE180 with Kit and Jessica. There's a small chance Jeanina from German will be in German 170 (my final breadth!). Next semester is looking pretty strong, though I'll hold verdict on the roomie/housing situation. I do have the GRE general on the 23rd, but the math looks pretty trivial and should need at most 48 hours review.

If I can survive Friday, we'll see where life takes me the next few months. The clouds are clearing, and things are looking distinctly up.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ex Post Facto

Tin of mints, you have met your match and are no more.

In other news, the GRE proper wasn't as bad as it could have been. I'll find out in a few weeks how badly I did on the E&M, but I am pretty confident I got all the Astro and Relativity bits right. Of Peter and Kit, I had the fewest left blank, which remains to be seen as a good or bad thing. I only *know* I got one wrong and one right, I suppose. They gave us a question -- it was essentially "Multiply two of these four matrices we supply you with. What is it now?"; and I got [Lz,px] incorrect -- I thought it commuted and marked 0.

Now, I make a call to sustenance. Cheesy sticks, you are to perish in my digestive juices.

Friday, April 13, 2007

On the Graduate Record Exam

In the spirit of the GRE tomorrow, I will give you the books that I've referenced (for even a single formula) the past two weeks in studying (in order of class):

- An Introduction to Mechanics (Kleppner/Kolenkow)
- Quantitative Chemical Analysis (Harris) [Error Analysis]
- Principles of Modern Chemistry (Oxtoby, Gillis, Nachtrieb) [Speed Distributions]
- Electricity and Magnetism (Purcell)
- Vibrations and Waves (French)
- Optics (Hecht)
- Modern Physics (Serway/Moses/Moyer) [Scattering]
- An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics (Carrol/Ostlie)
- Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (Griffiths)
- The Physics of Stars (Phillips) [Some fluid stuff...]
- Gravity (Hartle)
- Introduction to Cosmology (Ryden)
- Peice of ^%#@ purple REA physics prep book

My *real* introduction to cosmo book (Foundations of Modern Cosmology, Hawley and Holocomb)and my galaxies texts aren't quite so useful, I'm afraid.

I've also gone through about 75% of a tin of mints. Today.

I'll admit I'm a hair concerned about this one.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Computer, where art thou?

So, I return to this blog in the middle of Spring Break, and after four-month hiatus. This time, there is a reason -- my computer, good old Elizabeth, has been out of commission since mid-February! Thankfully, I should be getting her back next week.

The past few months have been a whirlwind of activity. Sara lived with us through January [and, I must admit, was a rather good housemate!], and is currently doing her semester abroad in Costa Rica. Shortly before Valentines day, Marya and I broke up, though we are still friends, I must admit we don't talk as often as I'd like, and probably not as much as Sara and I still do -- despite the handicap of being in different countries! Shortly afterwards, everything went crazy.

Well, I did end up landing the research position I wanted, and I'm currently working on finding a good way to compare predicted and real contrasts across the solar surface; however, time-lag between photographs, rotation of the sun, and normalizing intensities from two very different measurements is being a bit tricky. I think I'm close, though. However, Astro has proved to be interesting -- a class that is 75% homework, which thus robs much homework time from my General Relativity class, which is due 24 hours after Astro but a small fraction of the percentage of my grade. I'm not sure how this will end up reflecting on my GPA! Paleo has proved to be a wonderful class, and I'm reminded why I love the IB department so much. I'm considering looking into taking another class in that department next semester, just because ... I like the material. This semester, however, is taking its toll on me -- I feel habitually tired and my work has been slipping. This creates an excess of work which leads to more slipping, and, on the whole, it is a runaway effect. The result of this is my using this break as a catch-up period, the bulk of which has been devoted to my paper on Sauropods -- which I'll consider posting when its done. Otherwise, after this break (my immediate concerns for the future) are a German test, Paleo midterm, GR midterm, then the GRE subject test the week after that. Whoo.

If this trend continues, I expect the next update to be at the end of the semester. I expect things to be looking up. I'll be taking classes in Berkeley over the summer, and Sara will be staying with us. There is the slight dilemma of finding a new roommate, but I am not overly concerned. Here's to hoping the next post is a rather positive one!