Tuesday, August 30, 2005


So the thesis defence was not all that traumatic. I quite enjoyed giving the talk itself, and the questions were on the whole manageable, although I did come out of there saying, "huh, I really don't know any nuclear physics anymore."

But anyway, I am now a Doctor. And I'm going to be absolutely insufferable about it. I will insist on being called "Doctor" at all times. I didn't slave away here for...god, don't want to think about how many years...to be called "Ms." or "Miss." I will refuse to answer to my name, first or last, or to any random salutation, unless there's a Dr. in there.

"Bitch, make me a sandwich."
"I said make me a sandwich, bitch."
"...oh, are you talking to me?"
"Oh, right. Make me a sandwich, Doctor Bitch."
"One sandwich, coming up."

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Titles, and countdown

The title of my dissertation, on my first progress report:
Levels in 27Si that are resonances for 26Al + p

My private working title of my dissertation, after I had the first good look at the data:
Levels in 27Si that are NOT resonances for 26Al + p

The title I was considering when I realized that I had 50 figures on 60 pages of text:
Baby's first illustrated guide to explosive nucleosynthesis

The "sexy" title that my supervisor suggested:
26Alm + p resonances in 27Si

The title that I ended up putting on the title page of the document that got circulated to my committee:
27Alm + p resonances in 27Si

...you'll notice that that last option involves adding 27 + 1 and getting 27. I'm looking for new and unusual phenomena, but not quite THAT unusual.

So, um, yeah. I'm sitting around, reading papers, going over my slides one last time, and watching the clock until it's time to leave for the airport. My thesis defence is on Tuesday (10 am EDT, if you want to burn a candle for me) and I'm having trouble sitting still. I know there's very little point trying to DO anything more at this point, but still I can't shake the feeling that there's one more paper that I can read that will make all the difference when I get asked a hard question.

tick tock tick tock

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Pat Robertson: An embarassment to the Church

Who would Jesus assassinate?

"I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war, and I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger, and this is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, and we have other doctrines that we have announced, and without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another 200-billion-dollar war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

- Pat Robertson, advocating the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

This is from a Sojourners e-mail I just got. Pat Robertson is an embarassment to everyone who has ever been associated with Christianity or with America. It's time for him to do damage control, and I don't mean the travesty of an apology that he gave yesterday in which he tried to deny saying what had been captured on videotape. It's time for him to retire from public life.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Butts are funny

Poppy Z. Brite's blog includes a passing reference to a puerile game she plays with a friend: replacing a word in the title of a book with "Butt". I'm still giggling about it...

Infinite Butt
Play with your Butt
Essays in Butt Astrophysics
Where the Wild Butts Are
The Oxford Butt Dictionary
How to Cook Butts

*snrk*...butts...heh heh

Welcome to my world!

ALMOST the perfect man

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

Out for dinner just now with K+A+T, the conversation turned to chocolate. A said, "T, you make truffles, don't you?" K chimed in: "Wow, truffles AND your famous margaritas--you're ALMOST the perfect man."

Once she realized exactly how back-handed that compliment was, K was utterly mortified. A and I tried not to laugh too much...we did! we tried! honest!...it might have been hard to tell that we were trying, granted, given that it took us five minutes to stop cackling and wipe away the tears, and that periodically throughout the rest of the meal we'd look at T and start giggling again.

He'd already said that he wasn't going to work on another experiment with A and ML, because of how much whispering and cackling they do, and he's comparing hanging around with K and A and me to being in "Macbeth"...pretty soon he won't be talking to any of us at all, let alone doing night shifts for us. We'd better get back on his good side pronto.

*sigh* Happiness is working with someone who makes you laugh until you cry.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Holiday! Celebrate!

So I started my new job on July 4. Today the contract arrived in the mail. I leafed through it, skimming the bits about how working hours are "to be negotiated with your supervisor", skipping entirely the bits about pensions. What grabbed my attention was this:

"Holiday entitlement:
You are entitled to 38 days' holiday, including 8 statutory holidays, in any one year (commencing with the effective date of your appointment)..."

38 days' holiday, including 8 statutory holidays.


Having lived in the States for the past 7 years, I'm used to people complaining about how they don't get any paid holidays their first year on the job, and even after that they have to wheel and deal in order to be able to take more than two days off at xmas.


Couple that with "working hours are to be negotiated with your supervisor" and I can essentially spend all next summer on the Riviera.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I've got money in my pocket
I like the colour of my hair
I've got a friend who loves me
Got a house, got a car
I've got a good mother...

Canadians might recognize that bit of Jann Arden--Americans, think low-budget Melissa Etheridge. Anyway, that's the song that's been in my head today. I finally do have money in my pocket. It took close on two weeks, but my new boss figured out how to get me my paycheque to Canada from the UK. To celebrate, I paid off my Visa bill. I swear, any day now the "Girls Gone Wild" camera crew is going to start following me around.
I do also, as it happens, like the colour of the hair, but since I've never dyed it that's entirely fortuitous.
I have the use of both a house and a car, which strikes me as unutterably luxurious, most days.
My good mother celebrated her 59th birthday in Turkey on Sunday. Go wish her happy birthday.
My friend is about to cook some halibut for me, so I'd better cut this short and go try to convince him that he does in fact like beets. (He's skeptical, but keeping an open mind.)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Camping trip

So this weekend we went camping. Like, real camping. Like, hike three hours uphill in the dark to get to the campsite without knowing for sure that there'll be anywhere to put up your tent when you get there.

...okay, I shouldn't try to sound like I'm Tough Outdoors Chick or anything, or my camping partner is sure to point out that (a) I carried nothing heavier than a sleeping bag all weekend and (b) I never once had to pee in the bush, there being nicely maintained outhouses all over the landscape. But still. Tent. Hills. Packing out garbage. And views. Like this one. This is what we saw at breakfast the morning after we arrived.

garibaldi lake and sphinx glacier

Garibaldi Lake is a glacial lake in Garibaldi Park (between Squamish and Whistler). Its waters look like this.

garibaldi lake water

On Saturday morning the plan was to climb Black Tusk. It's the little nubbin in the middle of this picture. It doesn't look like much from down there, does it?

black tusk from garibaldi lake

Near the top there's a sign saying (essentially) "Don't go past this point if you know what's good for you." My hiking partner went on (duh), I went for a nap. It was quite cozy, curled up in the sunlight there. Of course I missed out on the stunning views from the top, but at that point I was too sleepy to care.

you don't seriously think I'm going to stop here

...of course, even from where I was, the views were pretty impressive. We were looking down on our campsite, more or less.

lake garibaldi from black tusk

The next day we went to Panorama Ridge. About 4 pm I was completely exhausted (which I freely admitted), and also very scared (which I fiercely denied). What I find interesting about this photo is the non-dorkiness of my expression. This is something that's practically unique among photos of me. I try to smile nice for the camera, I come out looking dorky. I try to look sultry? Dorky. I try to look like a respectable upstanding citizen? Dorky. But in this photo I just look normal. Tired and normal.

exhausted but soldiering on

We were most of the way up the mountain, and we kept meeting people who told us how great it was at the top, but I just really didn't think I could make it the rest of the way up. It was shale scree. I hate scree. It disturbs and upsets me on some deep existential level. It's just so...hostile. It doesn't want to be walked on. Somehow my hiking partner calmed me down and coached me over it, and then he stomped out little steps for me on the bit of glacier we had to cross to get to the top.

my own personal wenceslas

From the top we could see...everything. This is looking down on Garibaldi Lake.

cloud shadows on lake garibaldi from gentian peak

Black Tusk also looks much more impressive from here.

black tusk from gentian peak

And then we went home.

That makes it sound a lot less effort than it really was. From the moment I first thought "That's it, I'm done" to the moment I collapsed into bed there were six hours of hiking and two and a half hours of driving (with a break for steak. mmm...steak...).

There was never that much physical exertion--mostly because of the patience and generosity of my hiking partner, who carried all of the heavy stuff and never complained that I was strolling instead of striding--but even strolling gets taxing if you do it for ten hours. But I was left with this wonderful sense of ...physical ease, I guess, the next day (once a little bit of stiffness wore off). Everything seemed like less work than it did last week--both physically, because now I'm used to climbing big things for a long time, and emotionally, because hey, I can climb mountains!