what is it with goats?
I think goats are stalking me.
I got a few goat-related emails from my friend HP -- the first, when I asked for her address. She asked if I was going to send her information about the National Pygmy Goat Association (NPGA). I said I could if she wanted me to, but apparently someone had already done that to her, and I didn't want to be derivative. (In case you weren't sure, the italics there were to express my intense dislike for the word derivative used in that context. Just so you know.)
Then she sent me a link to a giggle-inducing video that involves fainting goats. It seems to be making the internet rounds these days. "maybe i'll make it a point to only send you links about goats?" she wrote.
Before she could send another link, though, the goats found me! When I sent out an email last week to let some friends know about this website, I got a bunch of replies from people who have been writing online too, so I've been perusing. I noticed this post from Russ, a Cornell friend and musician, and this guy certainly knows good music. I missed the burger of which he speaks, but The Mountain Goats, huh? Never heard of them.
The next day, I was looking at Landon's page and he has a link to things he's listening to right now. Down under "Top Artists -- Overall" who should appear but those mountain goats again?! Never before, and then twice in two days. That's how it always goes, I guess. Is there a name for that? When you learn a new word or concept and then you see it everywhere? Quick, someone Name! That! Concept! If you can't, I'll be stuck with it reminding me of goats... help.
Also, Landon and Russ, you both rock the facial hair, and might enjoy each other's company, were you not "geographically disadvantaged" (to quote Mr. Landon himself). I will introduce you on Friendster. That's the best I can do right now. Hrm.
Current Location: Chicago
Know what's cool? the overclocked lemon:
after all of this crazy goat action, you *are* coming back to chicago this summer to attend the 2006 national pygmy goat convention, right? how could you possibly resist?
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go, go K Unit!
Sometimes I feel like I travel a lot. Then, I realize that there are those whose frequent flyer miles blow mine away. Kaki King, for example. She's been in Chicago recording, so we've be able to hang out, bring her tasty snacks in the studio, etc. (From the Goddess & Grocer on Damen. Mmmmm.) To record, she was here in December for a few days to meet the producer, then here in January for a bit of time to lay down tracks, and then she'll be back in February to work on a final mix. A bunch of us were hanging out on her last night here in January, and we left with a spirited "see you soon" since she'll be back in what seemed like such a short time. Then I looked at her tour schedule, and while she'll be gone for less than three weeks, she's playing 8 shows in CA, GA, and FL and... briefly visiting? her home in NYC. I do much less travelling than that, and I still feel really stretched and tired at times going between Chicago and Pittsburgh, and all the other places that I can go for work and to visit people that I love.
Here's a picture of cute Kaki at D&K's 57th birthday party this summer. That's right, 57th birthday. It deserves its own entry -- I should scan the menu! Ok, it's not the greatest picture of her, but I had to post it since it's like the hottest picture of spoons, EVER. (You may notice that he's is wearing a "Stefan Rules" t-shirt!)
Anyway. Kaki. Here's a hotter picture of her, in fairness. If you want to see her play, then go right ahead. I highly recommend it. You can check out her tour schedule at www.kakiking.com -- she'll be in Chicago and NY soon.
My Current Location: Chicago. Just got back from NYC.
Number of Episodes it took me to really get into Arrested Development: 5 or so. (starting with the first season) They're only 20 minutes, though, so... two hours. And now I'll watch every other episode quite excitedly. Netflix away, my friends! Thanks to those who kept reminding me to watch it...
it came without ribbons! it came without tags!
it came without packages, boxes or bags!
These cuties on the couch of my old Ann Arbor house are gettin' hitched (to quote the email invitation) this weekend in NYC. At the time of this photo, he was a med student and she was a resident. The thing that I learned, living with med students, is that if they are at home, it is very likely that they are asleep.
As though competing, friends and family of mine seem to be heading towards the most casual wedding possible. 80 people or so, outdoors, at a nice bed and breakfast followed by dinner? with the ceremony performed by a scientist? yup. or a karaoke reception? yup. 30 people or so outside in central park, followed by a picnic? sure! married on the beach with a potluck reception and friends DJ-ing on someone's stereo? sounds good. This weekend it'll be 20 people or so in the bride and groom's Manhattan apartment (AKA small apartment) followed by a nice dinner. And there will be no ice sculptures of the names of the bride and groom intertwined... or WILL there?!
Looking forward to seeing you guys soon!
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This should probably seem normal to me by now, but I still love getting emails to the whole physics department like the one below:
Sorry for the mass email. I wonder if anyone in the department has a Keithley 642, or a
similar multimeter, with charge measurement sensitivity up to the fC range? We need it for
electron measurement by charge integration, and would greatly appreciate it if we can
borrow it for a couple of days.
Oh, sure. I've got one here in my pocket.
I also get great technical spam from time to time:
Do you ever need to pump small amounts of liquid at constant rates? Or in irregular intervals? Or
at increasing or decreasing speeds? Over extended times up to weeks? Or do you ever wish you could mix two different liquids at any (changing) ratio over extended times? Do you use solenoid driven pumps for such applications? Or do you need to switch liquid flows at irregular intervals with solenoid driven (micro)valves of 12 to 24 V?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might be interested in our programmable
Then there are the course descriptions:
Superunification of all the fundamental interactions underwent a major paradigm shift in 1984 when eleven-dimensional supergravity was knocked off its pedestal by ten-dimensional superstrings. 1995 witnessed a new shift of equal proportions: perturbative ten-dimensional superstrings were in their turn superseded by a new non-perturbative theory called M-theory which describes supermembranes and superfivebranes, which subsumes all five consistent string theories and whose low energy limit is, ironically, eleven-dimensional supergravity. The course will provide an elementary introduction. Evaluation will be based on homeworks. No required textbook; recommended texts and more information may be found on the website.
Ah, yes, superfivebranes. Even if you know what's going on there (and I would argue that few people do...) you have to step back and look at how crazy that all looks. (Bonus points if you use of the word "ironically" makes you smile.) I also like that sentence at the end: "The course will provide an elementary introduction."
And let's not forget the wacky physics sites out there, like the oldy-but-goody
Britney Spears Guide to Semiconductor Physics (like the photo above)
average of 50 people's photos
This is one of the best things I've seen on flickr so far:
Since you can "tag" a photo on flickr with words that describe the image, you can search through other people's images based on their tags. This guy has done an average over 50 different people's photos for a bunch of tags: sunset, happy/sad, eiffel tower, a bunch more, and the four seasons, shown above. If you look closely, you can see that some people used horizontal shots, while others used vertical shots, and the average of the photos gets the colors just right.
If you're flickr-ing around, you should also check out some photos of Africa. Three guys that I know: 1 2 3 have all worked at the lab and are driving together 3500 miles from the UK to Gambia in a cheap/crappy car for fun and charity. You can see their route and sponsor them! I especially like it when they take pictures of the same thing and you can see the same subject from three perspectives...
worshipping at the altar of Google
I first heard the word "Mashup" applied to music. Some guy named DJ Danger Mouse combined the Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album into his own Grey Album. It was passed around and downloaded, and he got sued and everything. This combination of two artists into one song was called a mashup.
Now, mashup can apply to combinations of software, too - not just songs. Shortly after Google Maps came out, people starting writing clever applications for it, combining the map information with some other data, like the listing of apartments on Craigslist. It's simple, but it still impresses me - you can click right on the apartments and see the pictures, then click on the link to go directly to the ad. Or, sort by price, by pets... zoom in, look around. I can think of the hours I've spent looking for apartments that could have been saved by such a easy-to-use application.
And there's more: linked with Google Maps, you can find coverage of NPR stations, bars and restaurants in NYC, close to subway stations (make sure to mouse-over the bars listed in the left panel! oooh, pretty!), breweries and brewpubs and bars (go up to main page to get to the listings for cities like Chicago), even the locations of future solar eclipses. (See you in Cleveland in 2024?) (A truly geeky wishlist: NPR stations, good food and beer, astronomical/geographical info...)
These, and more Google Maps Mashups can be found at "Google Maps Mania." Good stuff.
And then, there's Google Earth. It's a fun way to kill a few hours, visiting Niagara Falls, Paris, the pyramids in Egypt, etc. And! This brings me to the point. Nature magazine had a recent article about scientific mashups - using Google Earth and data from a bunch of places to map the recent avian flu outbreaks. People can sort by animal/human cases, by date, and click on links from the data points to get to journal articles, and the source of the data.
You can see the avian flu data yourself if you have Google Earth. Neat!
The staggering amount of available data and the way that we organize it are both changing the way that scientists work -- it's fun to watch.
(P.S. - The blogspot spell check doesn't know the word "geeky" -- irony, anyone?)
the Bessie Reaction
A few days ago, I was talking about the different responses that passers-by* have when they see something silly, like, for example, someone carrying around a big, broken disco ball. The time that I've noticed this most blatantly was when I was driving Kirby's car, Bessie, so I hearby christen this response "The Bessie Reaction."
Ah, Bessie. I am proud to have been involved in her cow-i-fication, though I was skeptical at first: "Really? Like a cow, huh?" After finishing with all the spray paint and tape and cardboard, etc., I was impressed. She looked good! And since the car cost Kirby a dollar in the first place, she looked excellent! (Someone didn't understand the mystery that is the oil change and had driven her into the ground. So it goes.)
When driving Bessie about town, sometimes people will smile and give a thumbs-up, and sometimes, if they recognize Trogdor, they'll yell or giggle or sing the Trogdor theme song. They may shout something apropos, like "Burninate!" This is awesome.
At first, though, I didn't understand why people were smiling at me at stop lights. From the inside, the car looks pretty normal (aside from all the bobble-heads glued to the dashboard, of course**) and so when people would laugh and point, I started to get confused. Then I realized what was happening, and it dawned on me that I was inside an Attention Magnet. Pay attention to me! Yay! I'll admit, it was kind of fun.
So, the good reactions make lots of sense to me. Sometimes, though, the Bessie Reaction kicks in - especially when stopped at a light. People glance over at the car for a moment, and get embarrassed (for me?) and quickly look away. Or, they'll stare until I catch them staring, and then they won't make eye contact with me. This is the funny part -- clearly, I know that the car I'm in looks like a cow. It's not an unfortunate birth mark that I was cursed with. Clearly, I took some action that led me to be in the driver's seat of such a vehicle. Maybe their embarrassed reaction says more about themselves than it says about me. But probably not.
*(***) This entry may or may not be an elaborate scheme to use the word "passers-by."
** Wow. The bobble-heads. They each bobble slightly differently (side-to-side, back-and-forth) and they bobble with different resonances, so if the car's going 55 mph, some bobble-heads really like that, but at 62 mph, different ones go faster -- watching them go from 0-70 mph is almost exactly like watching a symphony orchestra, but not quite.
*** Yeah, I end-noted an end-note. How do you like that? I just thought I should cite Mimi Smartypants for this end-noting business. She does it all the time, and I just thought I should come right out and say that I'm stealing it from her. There. The end.
Bessie and Kirby, the proud papa. Or ... lover?!
Originally uploaded by now picnic.
Here's a recipe for perhaps the best pasta sauce, in the world!
from Fine Cooking, perhaps the best cooking magazine, in the world!
for 8 oz pasta (i love Rustichella's handmade orecchiette for this! Penne is also good, but anything works.)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 small cloves garlic, minced
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes + their juice (Muir Glen have awesome tomatoes.)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or half, if dried)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (or half, if dried)
1/4 teaspoon (or more) dried red chile flakes
1/4 cup vodka (not $$$, but don't use it if you wouldn't drink it.)
1/3 cup chicken or veggie stock, if you've got it.
1/3 to 2/3 cup heavy cream (not milk! milk may break up due to the acidity!)
salt & pepper
coarsely chopped parsley
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, if you've got it
0. Bring the pasta water to a boil, with non-iodized salt in the water (1.5 Tablespoons or so for every 3 quarts of water). Use lots of water! Don't used iodized salt. It doesn't taste as good. I recommend using a cheapish Kosher Salt (Morton's, Diamond Crystal) for stuff like this. When the water boils, cook the pasta... don't wait. Leave the pasta a bit firm, since it will cook with the sauce a little at the end. Don't rinse the pasta: the starch on the pasta will help the sauce to stick.
1. Heat the olive oil, in a pretty big pan (the pasta will eventually be in the pan as well) until it sizzles when you add a drop of water. Then add the onions and garlic. Saute them until they begin to brown.
2. Add the tomatoes + juice, and the herbs and chili flakes. Cook until simmering.
3. Add the vodka and broth, if you have it. Bring the sauce to a simmer again and let some of the vodka simmer off. Let the sauce reduce a bit until it looks like you would put it on pasta, instead of serve it as soup... maybe 5-10 minutes? It's up to you.
4. Season the sauce with salt and pepper (make sure to taste it! and salt! and taste again!) and add the cream. Don't boil the sauce once you have added the cream. Taste the sauce again, after the cream has been added, and see if you need any more salt.
5. This is important! Don't just plop the pasta on the plates and then put the sauce on top. Take the pasta, which is done cooking and not rinsed, and put the pasta in the pan with the sauce. Cook the two together for a minute or two -- this allows the sauce to be absorbed into the pasta. Yum. Serve with the parsley and cheese, if you like.
my disco fever: broken
my disco fever: broken
I found this huge disco ball (24" diameter?) on the street one evening
near a campus building in Ann Arbor. It was glittering (glistening?
twinkling?) in the twilight, and I swooned at its super shininess. I
picked it up to take it home with me. It was slightly broken, as though
it'd been dropped, so one quarter of the sphere was unattached.
People walking by tended to have one of three reactions (or lacks
thereof): 1) no notice whatsoever of girl carrying large disco ball, 2)
beaming smiles! It's not everyday you see a smily girl bouncing along the
street carrying a large broken disco ball for no reason! or 3) a glance
and then a quick look in another direction, as though it would be impolite
to stare. It's OK, people in category 3! I am proud to carry this disco
ball across campus! No need to avert your gaze!!
It was styrofoam on the inside, hollow, with the little square mirrors
glued directly to the styrofoam. I had grand ideas about what I might do
with my very own disco ball -- not to fix it and hang it from the ceiling,
but to take off many of the mirrors and to glue them to something else, or
to break the ball into more pieces and put them around the room in the
corners to reflect the light from the central overhead lamp onto all the
walls of my room.
For the two years that I kept it, I had the pieces on a shelf near the
window, so that the light would stream in, in the evening, and it would
hit the ball and scatter across the room. This, I liked very much. When I
moved from Ann Arbor, though, I thought it was time to free the
disco-pieces -- to give them to someone else who might also appreciate
them. I left them on the curb outside my house, and I hope that someone
else has found them a home. I probably should have placed a bizarre
craigslist ad: "Free to a good home: broken disco ball" or a barter
ad offering to trade my broken disco ball for something totally incongruent:
"Will trade broken disco ball for manila envelopes ... or ipod mini."
I originally took this picture for the Mirror Project -- if you're
unfamiliar, check it out!
another day, no cold fusion
I was reading an article today in Nature about fusion and it reminded me of working at SRI (Stanford Research Institute) many summers ago.
There was another summer student there who was working in a cold fusion lab, who would occassionally sit outside, have lunch, and get attacked by wasps with a big group of us summer students. (There were a lot of wasps, but they mostly just wanted our syrupy sodas and could often be distracted with them.)
Anyway, this guy worked in a different part of the lab than the rest of us (mysterious!) and he was older (cool!) had a thick scottish accent (sexy!) and he was working on cold fusion (sounds awesome!). So, when we asked him, with some amount of envy, what is was like over in his lab, I was surprised to hear that he was pretty bored. He said there wasn't actually a lot to do over there, and mostly they all just sat around and looked for (but didn't find) any evidence of cold fusion. He said he drank a lot of coffee, and smoked a lot of cigarettes, and went home every day thinking "another day.... no cold fusion."
The thing going on in today's article is apparently sonoluminescence and not cold fusion, but they are both types of table-top nuclear fusion, so I say "close enough."
(Oh! And! The photo. It's the first one I took with my digital camera when I got it. It's my scarf. Or fusing atoms. One or the other.)
Hello! I have, in the past, enjoyed writing postcards very much. I like them because they combine pictures and words, they can be connected to one another or random, and they have a conciseness that I find fun and challenging -- there's only so much space there. So, I will attempt to write some postcards to you here. Many of them may be about current people, places, and things, but I'll admit that I have both literal and figurative boxes of postcards to send from the past, so i'll try to get to those, too.
To see some real-life postcards, go to postsecret where there are new scanned-in postcards each week of people's secrets. Wow. Good project.