Friday, March 27, 2009

Just getting by

I am feeling guilty because I haven't written anything in a while. So here is a catch-up blog:

1. My students took a test on Tuesday. In preparation, one of the GSIs held a review session (he was sick of getting e-mail questions also). I bet him a beer that the test grades would be unaffected by (a) the fact that we tried to put together a very nice test and (b) he was holding a review session. I don't know about the other sections of the test yet, but the multiple choice average was 81%, which I bet him it would be 82% +/- 2%. Nailed it. I guess I am a cynical old bastard. But right.

2. I went to Washington DC for a 1-day meeting on what type of science you can do from a suborbital platform that will be launched every few days (think commercial space ventures). The general idea is that only rich people will pay $200,000 to go into space, but a $200,000 is cheap for a rocket flight from NASA's standards. It is quite interesting. The flights are about 10 minutes long. You experience 5g on the way up and 6g on the way down. And are ~weightless~ for something like 3 minutes. That would be really cool. But, I bitch about spending $50 each for all day at Lego Land.

3. I rode my bike from downtown to home. I was hardly tired, which is a good sign. My butt didn't hurt either. Great. I think I am going to bribe the kids to let me go for bike ride tomorrow.

4. My new Post Doc started work about a week ago. It will be an interesting ride. He has an interesting personality. I am not sure that I understand it right now. I will try to keep you posted. We ordered a computer for him a week ago and it still hasn't come in. That is frustrating. You basically can't work without a computer. He is very intent on doing one specific thing, while I want him to work on other things. While it is ok for him to work on this one thing a bit, it is what he keeps coming back too. I really hope that he works out....

5. I finally got a grad student to agree to come work with us. He is from just down the road. Seems like a nice guy. He actually works in the building with some other folks right now, who really like him. Good programmer, which is what I really need too. So, I am hopeful on that front.

6. With Obama's $3,000,000,000 infusion of cash into the National Science Foundation, and an increase in next year's budget of something like 10%, it may be a very good year for me. We shall see. I was told a few months ago that if the 09 budget is passed, I will get a grant. So, it has passed. Further, I was on another (hardware) grant for something like $2M. That now has a very good chance of being funded. And I have been asked by people to write another (hardware) grant for about $2+M (depending on the language of the NSF major research instrumentation grant call for proposals). If all of this money comes in, I am going to have to hire a large number of people to help out. And I have a NASA grant that is pending that I was told should be announced on March 19. It is now well beyond this date. Typically, if you are informed by the date, it is bad news. So, the longer it takes, the better the news may be.

7. New Yellow Dog still pees in house. News at 11. Actually, she is doing really well, except for at night around 9 PM, when we just have walked her an hour before, so we don't believe that she really has to pee. Then she does. In the house. So, now we are taking her outside all of the freaking time. During our only resting time. Nice. But, whatever.

8. I read 4 student papers in 2 days. These are full up, submitting to a major journal papers, not undergraduate class papers. What a pain in the ass.

9. I have 2 more to read that are not student papers. Interestingly, both are by the same first author. I am co-author on one and (anonymously) reviewing the other for a Journal. Strange.

10. I have gotten a few "Death Cab for Cutie" albums (what do you call a collection of mp3s now? Not a disk. Not an album. A pod?) I bought one from Amazon ($9.97 for mp3 downloads, which is a okish deal... at least they will play on other things besides an iPod, which I don't have - I have a Blackberry).

11. On that note, I hate the way the Blackberry handles multimedia. It sucks donkey balls. And you can quote me. This is my official review for my Blackberry: "e-mail - ok; surfing the web - sucks; Blackberry mapping program - sucks; Google maps on blackberry - awesome; mp3 player - sucks donkey balls; and as a phone - ok." When you move all of your mp3s onto the memory card, and restart the blackberry, it makes some sort of a database of the songs and such. Only, it takes it about 10 minutes to do this (every time you turn on or off your BB - think about airplanes....) And then, if this was the only issue, it would be fine, but no, it actually looses songs and whole albums. So, one time you turn it on, the new Death Cab for Cutie album shows up, but the next time, it doesn't. So, you reboot. Doesn't show up. Screw it, listen to something else. Another interesting feature is if you listen to music while it is trying to build this database, it stops building it. So, what you have when you start building is it. Now, it doesn't loose it off the memory card, it just doesn't figure out that it is there. Really irritating. Contract is up in November. Can anyone say "iPhone for Christmas?" Oh, I can.

12. Crab boy is growing his hair out long. He looks so shaggy now it is unbelievable.

13. Crab girl got her bottom pallet expander. Crab Mama had to bribe her with ice cream for a week to do it. Small bribe for what she will get out of it. Her top expander is working miracles - she has something like 6+ mm of more space up there. Hopefully they won't have to yank more teeth when all of her adult teeth come in. I had 8 yanked. Maybe they can keep her to 4....???

14. We lost connection to out instrument that is sitting out on the Antarctic continent. It is literally in the middle of no where. It took six weeks to get people in there to deploy it. I strongly advocated to put it at McMurdo (which is about a week to get to and a few days to get home from) for a year to field test it. I was outvoted ("why do we need to test it when it is an almost copy of the last one that we built???" Oh, it turns out that they have lots of failures on Iridium modems - and if they fail, your instrument is basically dead in the water.) I am pretty sick of being outvoted by people and doing it their way, only to have a big old turd drop on us. I am going to start bringing up all of the turds. They will be flying around like a turd storm if people dismiss what I say any more. Turds will be hitting the fan. It had to be said.

15. Crab Mama just left the room to go to bed. So, I guess my time has come.



Rico Detroit said...

If a ride on a rocket is $200,000 now, that is encouraging: we may get into space relatively cheaply in about a decade.

You definitely need an iPod or iPhone! I have a 160GB iPod and it's wonderful, although I'm about out of space. (Three Death Cab For Cutie albums on there - good stuff.)

BTW, it's still called an album. The original albums were just bound collections of 78 RPM singles (a la photo albums), and "album" just means collection.

By the time we're riding on rockets, however, "albums" may be a historical anomaly rendered irrelevant by the flexibility offered by MP3s (or whatever has replaced MP3s by then).

DrL said...

Re: 4. I am interested to see how the story about your New Postdoc develops.

I am in a parallel story, but playing the other role. I am a postdoc who wanted to do some specific things working with the advisor who wants me to do other things. My advisor wants me to do things I know how to do, and I wanted to learn new things, while partly contributing to the lab with the skills that they lack.

I make for one unhappy, unmotivated postdoc. I hailed for this job across the planet, and I landed in the culture that does not allow for much of independence. Also the distance is responsible that I have no easy way out or escape. I am glad that it is only for one year...

At the moment I am just negotiating a position for future, a two year post. (I visit the lab next weekend). It is an early stage of discussions what I could do in the new lab. Again there is a choice of doing things I already know how to do, and learning new things that I REALLY want to learn.

I hope that I can learn from your blog how this situation looks from the PI side as the story continues. :-)

BTW. How about an older Metallica song, Fade to Black?

Lee said...

I helped put the packaging together for the first Death Cab album ("Something About Airplanes"). My friend Thingmaker L did the printing. Fun times. This is what you miss with downloads: pretty packaging (though there is less of that these days..)