Novembeerfest is quickly approaching. This is one of the longest running homebrew competitions in Washington, and is being held on Nov. 5th. Each brewer is allowed up to 10 entries. I won’t get 10 beers done by then, but hopefully I’ll have 6 or so. I’ve already brewed my Amber, Old Ale, and a slightly modified version of the White House Honey Porter using fresh homegrown Chinook hops. Hopefully I’ll get to make the American Stout, Imperial IPA, Blonde, and American Brown in a marathon brewing session this weekend.

You know you’ve been spending too much time at work when you try to open the door to your house with your lab key over and over (and over and over….) and cannot figure out for the life of you why the stupid key all of a sudden won’t fit in the door.

I’ve been using Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, for the last few days since getting a new laptop. I’m fairly satisfied so far. The first thing that strikes me is that it is much more aesthetically pleasing than anything they’ve released in the past. Ever since its inception I couldn’t stand to use anything other than google only because everything else was amazingly cluttered and frantic. But it seems MS figured that part out, I could have told them if they had asked. I haven’t used many features yet, but one thing I did really like is that you get a small text preview of each link when you roll over the orange dot next to each link when the link itself is rolled over. For instance, I needed to find out the open hours at amazon pool. Bing returned the link to the pool as the first result and when I rolled over the orange dot a list of open hours showed up.

I am finding, though, that google and bing speak different languages. I, like most other half intelligent computer users, have learned how to speak to the google search engine in such a way as to get relevant results immediately. I’m sure it’s possible with bing, I just haven’t learned its dialect yet.

Another thing that I’ve had to resort to google for is searching for error messages when compiling programs or installing things. Google seems to be really good at finding these types of results, Bing not so much.

I’m going to give bing a ride for a little longer to see if I can figure it out. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Another lapse in posting as usual. A lot has happened since last time. Most notably M. finished her 3rd year of medical school! She is now (unofficially due to a little 2 week ENT elective) a 4th year medical student, bearing down on residency and boards. I on the other hand continue to languish in the most unstructured and non-goal-oriented education system on the planet. Four years ago I advanced to candidacy and was left to my own devices. It’s sort of like putting someone at the start of a big maze, blindfolding them, tying their hands behind their back and expecting them to magically run through without smacking their face against a wall. After many smashed faces and misguided turns I may finally be nearing the end. I held my last (hopefully) annual review a week ago and announced my plans to be done at the end of the calendar year. Everyone was on board and told me to start writing the backbone of my dissertation. Calculations to be added in later. More later…

After a harrowing drive down to Monterey including missed exits, near collisions, and empty gas tanks in the fast lane of CA-I808 I’m here safe and sound. I was fighting to stay awake while presenting the WPI poster last night, and snuck out a little early to get some sleep. Went for a nice run this morning along the boardwalk, listening to crashing waves and NPR. It was a good session this morning with Ara Apkarian giving a great talk on some 4 color 4 wave mixing experiments that were able to highlight some key fundamental features of quantum mechanics such as nonlocality, entanglement, and coherence. In addition they would make a great application of my theory. Off to more lectures.

For the past few and the upcoming several weeks the department has been interviewing candidates for a faculty position in physical chemistry. Aside from the obvious free lunches they are completely without benefit for me. I really couldn’t care less who gets the job if it’s not going to be me, I’ll be long gone (hopefully) by the time their lab gets set up.

After the latest candidate’s talk was done yesterday I witnesses the painful extent we scientists will go to so that we don’t have to talk to each other. We exhibit the complete antithesis to the herd mentality, doing anything we can not to have to interact on a personal level with another of our kind. It’s not that we don’t like each other, on the contrary I’m quite fond of several of my fellow toilers. I think we are just so completely entrenched in the search for objective truth we can’t bear it to engage in semi-false trite conversation.

I watched as 30 or so faculty, staff, and graduate students filed out of the lecture and proceeded down the same hallway, in the same direction and speed, but interspersed at extremely precise intervals so as to inhibit chit-chat. We take up a staggered configuration one, two, and sometimes three bodies wide, but with enough space (approximately 1.5-2 ft) between ourselves and the people in front of and behind us making it impossible to talk to either one. (see diagram at left) No one deviates from this pattern. No one speeds up or slows down. No one talks. At all. Complete silence. This continues while we slowly disintegrate as people go off to their respective offices to continue their work in silence.

Maybe there’s some telepathy going on that only tenured faculty are privy to. Or maybe they really don’t like each other. Either way I’m still sitting here in silence, happily doing my quiet work.

M. gets to do her peds rotation is sunny Great Falls, MT in a few months. Usually this isn’t a town that I would take note of, but as I walked past a TV last night I noticed the weather for the northwest, including montana. The coldest city, by a good few degrees, was none other than Great Falls which clocked in at a balmy high of -7 degrees F. I did a little digging around and discovered, much to my surprise, that it gets cold there. Very cold. Very very cold. Even the national weather service thinks so. Here is part of their forecast:

My favorite part is their detailed description of the weather for Saturday and Sunday: COLD. Further down the page they state that while the high will be near -4 this afternoon, with wind chill that number could go as low as -31! Thats negative THIRTY ONE degrees! I’m pretty sure our brains freeze around -20, and M’s is a little less tolerant of the cold than regular warm blooded mammals. The low overnight is -35 with wind chill.