anarchist_nomad: (Guess who?)
( Dec. 6th, 2006 03:53 pm)
Tomorrow is my last day on shift, which is not a bad thing. Working ten days straight is hardly unprecedented or unrivaled -- I think the most I ever worked sans break was fifty-five days in a row, back in 1993 when I held two lifeguarding jobs -- but I don't generally enjoy going long stretches without a day off.

As mentioned before, once my shift is over, I will be spending a three day weekend in Rome before going back to Oxford. Not counting a quick evening in Rome three weeks ago, I have not been to Rome since 2001. Thus, I have been doing my homework, digesting sufficient reading to make the most of my stay. Last night, I read a brief history of Italy from the pre-Etruscan times to the present. Learned a lot, actually -- pretty interesting stuff.

Although I have been Nomadic for most of a decade now, it is only in recent years that I have become more sophisticated in my attitude toward travel, educating myself about a place where I am going to spend time. Although I lived in Japan for two years -- and did a fair bit of sightseeing while I was there (particularly with [livejournal.com profile] resourceress in Nov. 2001) -- I did not teach myself nearly as much history as I would were I to go back now. Similarly, during my Summer 2001 tour of Europe (hitting not only Rome, but also Barcelona, Nice, Monaco, Napoli, Pompeii, Venice, Athens, Ephasus, and Istanbul), I made virtually no effort beforehand to learn about the wealth of places that I would be going. Certainly it is possible to be enriched by travel without stocking up on background knowledge, but I have learned that the experience is deepened by that knowledge. Non satis non scire, or "Not to know is not enough."[*]

Before my vacation in Buenos Aires with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat last November, I spent weeks reading up on both the sights and the history of Argentina. The effort proved well worth it. At the time, [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia made fun of me for preparing so thoroughly for the trip... but then she did more than a fair share of research herself before coming to visit me in England last May, and I think her work paid off, too. Certainly, living in England, I have made a special effort to learn about the history and culture -- e.g., I can recite the monarchs from 959 to present -- and I think I now know more history than most of the Brits that I know. Such knowledge has proven more than just trivia; when sightseeing, it gives a historical context for what one is seeing.

So, yes, now my attentions turn to Rome. I'll admit that I am tempted to sack Rome, just for the sake of tradition... but I suppose I shall resist the impulse. Nonetheless, I am getting psyched up for this little excursion, and expect to understand far more of what I see than when I was last there, five years ago.

[*] Ten points to the first person who can correctly tell me where this phrase comes from -- no cheating by looking it up on-line!

anarchist_nomad: (Guess who?)
( Dec. 6th, 2006 03:53 pm)
Tomorrow is my last day on shift, which is not a bad thing. Working ten days straight is hardly unprecedented or unrivaled -- I think the most I ever worked sans break was fifty-five days in a row, back in 1993 when I held two lifeguarding jobs -- but I don't generally enjoy going long stretches without a day off.

As mentioned before, once my shift is over, I will be spending a three day weekend in Rome before going back to Oxford. Not counting a quick evening in Rome three weeks ago, I have not been to Rome since 2001. Thus, I have been doing my homework, digesting sufficient reading to make the most of my stay. Last night, I read a brief history of Italy from the pre-Etruscan times to the present. Learned a lot, actually -- pretty interesting stuff.

Although I have been Nomadic for most of a decade now, it is only in recent years that I have become more sophisticated in my attitude toward travel, educating myself about a place where I am going to spend time. Although I lived in Japan for two years -- and did a fair bit of sightseeing while I was there (particularly with [livejournal.com profile] resourceress in Nov. 2001) -- I did not teach myself nearly as much history as I would were I to go back now. Similarly, during my Summer 2001 tour of Europe (hitting not only Rome, but also Barcelona, Nice, Monaco, Napoli, Pompeii, Venice, Athens, Ephasus, and Istanbul), I made virtually no effort beforehand to learn about the wealth of places that I would be going. Certainly it is possible to be enriched by travel without stocking up on background knowledge, but I have learned that the experience is deepened by that knowledge. Non satis non scire, or "Not to know is not enough."[*]

Before my vacation in Buenos Aires with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat last November, I spent weeks reading up on both the sights and the history of Argentina. The effort proved well worth it. At the time, [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia made fun of me for preparing so thoroughly for the trip... but then she did more than a fair share of research herself before coming to visit me in England last May, and I think her work paid off, too. Certainly, living in England, I have made a special effort to learn about the history and culture -- e.g., I can recite the monarchs from 959 to present -- and I think I now know more history than most of the Brits that I know. Such knowledge has proven more than just trivia; when sightseeing, it gives a historical context for what one is seeing.

So, yes, now my attentions turn to Rome. I'll admit that I am tempted to sack Rome, just for the sake of tradition... but I suppose I shall resist the impulse. Nonetheless, I am getting psyched up for this little excursion, and expect to understand far more of what I see than when I was last there, five years ago.

[*] Ten points to the first person who can correctly tell me where this phrase comes from -- no cheating by looking it up on-line!

My current vacation in the States has been designed to be a bit of a whirlwind tour of my life. Today is my sixth -- and final -- day in Illinois. Tomorrow, I go to spend two days in Arizona, the previous State that I lived in. Then I will be in New York, where I lived before AZ, on Friday... before finishing up with two days in Massachusetts. Each of the four states that I have lived in gets a bit of my time on this trip.

The first, and longest, leg of the tour goes to Illinois because it is where I call home and it is where I seem to have put down the deepest roots. As that leg begins to draw to a close, here is a report on what I have been up to this week:

Thursday: Landed at O'Hare around 10am. After [livejournal.com profile] gyades picked me up, we went for lunch. Then I spent a fair bit of the day running errands... the sort that I could not do from thousands of miles away. I also dropped by the lab to see some of my old colleagues in the Particle Astrophysics Center. That was nice. On my way home, I stopped by the comic book store and picked up the past three months worth of books. [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism made dinner for us at the Event Horizon. Finally, I read myself to sleep with the last three issues of DC's Infinite Crisis and the first two issues of Marvel's Civil War. I thought the Crisis story was okay, but I was extremely impressed with Civil War... quite in spite of myself! I have made a hobby of being a Marvel cynic for the past decade or so... primarily out of bitterness for the sharp decline in the quality of their books. So I find myself impressed at how good this particular cross-over story is starting off!

Friday: I spent the day with [livejournal.com profile] iamthesphinx. This may be, so far, the only time that I have been more nervous approaching a second date than I was on the first date. Since the weather was quite hot, we decided to postpone the Botanical Gardens, which are outdoors, in favour of the Garfield Park Conservatory, which is indoors. I am not sure how we decided that a greenhouse on a hot day would be a smart idea, from a temperature perspective. However, the conservatory itself was lovely and made for a very good visit. Then we went out for Mexican food -- which there is a definite lack of in England. After a quick stop at her apartment, where I got to meet her two adorable kitties, we spent the evening at two karaoke bars. The first one, Hidden Cove, was new to me; then we ended up at our regular spot... Sidekick's. Throughout the course of the day, we had one long conversation that organically shifted in topic to cover an enormous range of subjects. Which was fantastic!

Saturday: Party Day! As usual, everyone at the Event Horizon spent the first few hours of the day getting things set up for the party. Then, around 1pm, we could relax as friends began arriving. The party ended up being a bit smaller than usual -- thirteen people total, where most recent parties have numbered in the twenties. I mainly attribute this to AnthroCon, which a number of regular attendees were at. Ah, well. Those who could not show were missed, but I was quite happy to catch up with all the friends who could be there. So long as there is an interest, I will probably continue hosting these parties each time I come back to the States.

Over the course of the day, I played a fair number of games. First was Apples to Apples, which [livejournal.com profile] iamthesphinx won quite handedly. Although I enjoy the game, I never do very well at it. Indeed, this time I did not score a single point! Then I played Wise & Otherwise, in the backyard, beating [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism for the first time ever!! (Or at least for the first time when she was not sleeping during the game...) We took advantage of the good weather to play a small game of Four Square. When it ended, I was in the lead spot, for whatever that is worth. At least I did not get bonked on the head for it this time, as I did back in March! Before pizza arrived, I was part of an aborted game of Carcasonne and after dinner I played a truncated Lord of the Fries, which [livejournal.com profile] madandrew won.

In between pizza and Lord of the Fries, there was a group discussion of physics, with most people at the party. It started when somebody asked me about what I am working on now. I did my best to give a lay explanation, though I am still new enough to the world of dark matter detection to have perfected my routine yet. Hopefully I did a good enough job; I take the business of explaining science to non-scientists quite seriously. When I worked on solar and supernova neutrinos at Super-Kamiokande, I had perfected a standard explanation within one year. During that year, it was improved from questions that people asked me. Though, after reaching perfection, I gave the explanation so often that I began to grow bored with it, despite how well it was received. I am still working on a standard explanation for dark matter detection.

Around 11pm, most people had left and only [livejournal.com profile] gyades, [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism, [livejournal.com profile] iamthesphinx, and I remained. [livejournal.com profile] gyades built up a fire in the backyard -- no small feat given that it had rained earlier in the evening. Then we all gathered around the fire and talked for several hours. This made for some of the more relaxing time that I have spent in quite a while.

Sunday: My time in Illinois branched out from Chicagoland. After sleeping in, I woke up and drove to Urbana to see [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia for the first time since her trip to England last month. We finished the masks that we had begun making late last year and worked on periodically since then. We went out for dinner -- Mexican food once again -- and then got ice cream for dessert. Back at her place, the House of Slack, we watched Tristan and Isolde as we ate the ice cream. Then we talked for a good long while, catching up on various things. Overall, a mellow but good day. And now I have a completed mask!

Monday: I completed the rounds of other places in Illinois that are significant to me. After sleeping in again, I left the House of Slack and drove from Urbana-Champaign to Bloomington-Normal to see the Kiddo. Now that he is off for the summer -- after a 4.0 first year in grad school -- he seems to be doing quite alright. We hung out and caught each other up for a bit. We got lunch and then his girlfriend came over so that I could meet her. The three of us strolled around the two ponds at his apartment complex, then met up with his girlfriend's friend to play mini-golf. The friend arrived after us, so we filled the interim time by playing in the arcade and tossing about the high-bounce balls that I had won. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I used to play mini-golf regularly when we lived in Long Island and Arizona but, before yesterday, I had not picked up a club in quite some time. It showed: The Kiddo beat us all, with me trailing in second place by eight strokes. Next time! (I wonder if they have mini-golf in England...) After the game, the Kiddo and I went back to his apartment and played a game of Jenga. Our final height -- thirty-two completed levels -- was respectable, but nowhere near our best score of 39 2/3 levels, from many years ago. Finally, as the day got late, I drove back North to the Event Horizon and spent some time talking with both housemates, [livejournal.com profile] gyades and [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism, before going to bed.

Tuesday: Today I woke up early to bring Foxy to the vet. It seems that she is doing very well. She has put on weight and is maintaining it. The swelling in her lymph node has gone down. All good signs. We will soon be taking her off of antibiotics, then weaning her off of the steroids. It looks like our little girl is very likely to be okay now. What a relief!!!

Later today, I hope to take a walk at the Morton Arboretum. It will be the last walk that I take before my membership expires in August. I was planning to go there before writing this entry; however, a drizzle had begun, so I took to the computer while waiting for the rain to subside. If it does stop, then I will bring some comic books with me so that I can walk as well as read in a beautiful space. Tonight, I am planning to play [livejournal.com profile] gyades in GO, with the usual outcome -- he kicks my arse -- expected. And then, tomorrow morning, I am off on a plane to Phoenix, where I will be reunited with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat once again!

Right now, I feel a little bit like I have been on a foreign tour of duty and am getting a bit of welcome shore leave in before returning to my station. I love it over in England, but I have missed being here, too. That's the trouble with having only one body; I need clones.

More about the upcoming legs of this trip as they actually happen...
My current vacation in the States has been designed to be a bit of a whirlwind tour of my life. Today is my sixth -- and final -- day in Illinois. Tomorrow, I go to spend two days in Arizona, the previous State that I lived in. Then I will be in New York, where I lived before AZ, on Friday... before finishing up with two days in Massachusetts. Each of the four states that I have lived in gets a bit of my time on this trip.

The first, and longest, leg of the tour goes to Illinois because it is where I call home and it is where I seem to have put down the deepest roots. As that leg begins to draw to a close, here is a report on what I have been up to this week:

Thursday: Landed at O'Hare around 10am. After [livejournal.com profile] gyades picked me up, we went for lunch. Then I spent a fair bit of the day running errands... the sort that I could not do from thousands of miles away. I also dropped by the lab to see some of my old colleagues in the Particle Astrophysics Center. That was nice. On my way home, I stopped by the comic book store and picked up the past three months worth of books. [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism made dinner for us at the Event Horizon. Finally, I read myself to sleep with the last three issues of DC's Infinite Crisis and the first two issues of Marvel's Civil War. I thought the Crisis story was okay, but I was extremely impressed with Civil War... quite in spite of myself! I have made a hobby of being a Marvel cynic for the past decade or so... primarily out of bitterness for the sharp decline in the quality of their books. So I find myself impressed at how good this particular cross-over story is starting off!

Friday: I spent the day with [livejournal.com profile] iamthesphinx. This may be, so far, the only time that I have been more nervous approaching a second date than I was on the first date. Since the weather was quite hot, we decided to postpone the Botanical Gardens, which are outdoors, in favour of the Garfield Park Conservatory, which is indoors. I am not sure how we decided that a greenhouse on a hot day would be a smart idea, from a temperature perspective. However, the conservatory itself was lovely and made for a very good visit. Then we went out for Mexican food -- which there is a definite lack of in England. After a quick stop at her apartment, where I got to meet her two adorable kitties, we spent the evening at two karaoke bars. The first one, Hidden Cove, was new to me; then we ended up at our regular spot... Sidekick's. Throughout the course of the day, we had one long conversation that organically shifted in topic to cover an enormous range of subjects. Which was fantastic!

Saturday: Party Day! As usual, everyone at the Event Horizon spent the first few hours of the day getting things set up for the party. Then, around 1pm, we could relax as friends began arriving. The party ended up being a bit smaller than usual -- thirteen people total, where most recent parties have numbered in the twenties. I mainly attribute this to AnthroCon, which a number of regular attendees were at. Ah, well. Those who could not show were missed, but I was quite happy to catch up with all the friends who could be there. So long as there is an interest, I will probably continue hosting these parties each time I come back to the States.

Over the course of the day, I played a fair number of games. First was Apples to Apples, which [livejournal.com profile] iamthesphinx won quite handedly. Although I enjoy the game, I never do very well at it. Indeed, this time I did not score a single point! Then I played Wise & Otherwise, in the backyard, beating [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism for the first time ever!! (Or at least for the first time when she was not sleeping during the game...) We took advantage of the good weather to play a small game of Four Square. When it ended, I was in the lead spot, for whatever that is worth. At least I did not get bonked on the head for it this time, as I did back in March! Before pizza arrived, I was part of an aborted game of Carcasonne and after dinner I played a truncated Lord of the Fries, which [livejournal.com profile] madandrew won.

In between pizza and Lord of the Fries, there was a group discussion of physics, with most people at the party. It started when somebody asked me about what I am working on now. I did my best to give a lay explanation, though I am still new enough to the world of dark matter detection to have perfected my routine yet. Hopefully I did a good enough job; I take the business of explaining science to non-scientists quite seriously. When I worked on solar and supernova neutrinos at Super-Kamiokande, I had perfected a standard explanation within one year. During that year, it was improved from questions that people asked me. Though, after reaching perfection, I gave the explanation so often that I began to grow bored with it, despite how well it was received. I am still working on a standard explanation for dark matter detection.

Around 11pm, most people had left and only [livejournal.com profile] gyades, [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism, [livejournal.com profile] iamthesphinx, and I remained. [livejournal.com profile] gyades built up a fire in the backyard -- no small feat given that it had rained earlier in the evening. Then we all gathered around the fire and talked for several hours. This made for some of the more relaxing time that I have spent in quite a while.

Sunday: My time in Illinois branched out from Chicagoland. After sleeping in, I woke up and drove to Urbana to see [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia for the first time since her trip to England last month. We finished the masks that we had begun making late last year and worked on periodically since then. We went out for dinner -- Mexican food once again -- and then got ice cream for dessert. Back at her place, the House of Slack, we watched Tristan and Isolde as we ate the ice cream. Then we talked for a good long while, catching up on various things. Overall, a mellow but good day. And now I have a completed mask!

Monday: I completed the rounds of other places in Illinois that are significant to me. After sleeping in again, I left the House of Slack and drove from Urbana-Champaign to Bloomington-Normal to see the Kiddo. Now that he is off for the summer -- after a 4.0 first year in grad school -- he seems to be doing quite alright. We hung out and caught each other up for a bit. We got lunch and then his girlfriend came over so that I could meet her. The three of us strolled around the two ponds at his apartment complex, then met up with his girlfriend's friend to play mini-golf. The friend arrived after us, so we filled the interim time by playing in the arcade and tossing about the high-bounce balls that I had won. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I used to play mini-golf regularly when we lived in Long Island and Arizona but, before yesterday, I had not picked up a club in quite some time. It showed: The Kiddo beat us all, with me trailing in second place by eight strokes. Next time! (I wonder if they have mini-golf in England...) After the game, the Kiddo and I went back to his apartment and played a game of Jenga. Our final height -- thirty-two completed levels -- was respectable, but nowhere near our best score of 39 2/3 levels, from many years ago. Finally, as the day got late, I drove back North to the Event Horizon and spent some time talking with both housemates, [livejournal.com profile] gyades and [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism, before going to bed.

Tuesday: Today I woke up early to bring Foxy to the vet. It seems that she is doing very well. She has put on weight and is maintaining it. The swelling in her lymph node has gone down. All good signs. We will soon be taking her off of antibiotics, then weaning her off of the steroids. It looks like our little girl is very likely to be okay now. What a relief!!!

Later today, I hope to take a walk at the Morton Arboretum. It will be the last walk that I take before my membership expires in August. I was planning to go there before writing this entry; however, a drizzle had begun, so I took to the computer while waiting for the rain to subside. If it does stop, then I will bring some comic books with me so that I can walk as well as read in a beautiful space. Tonight, I am planning to play [livejournal.com profile] gyades in GO, with the usual outcome -- he kicks my arse -- expected. And then, tomorrow morning, I am off on a plane to Phoenix, where I will be reunited with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat once again!

Right now, I feel a little bit like I have been on a foreign tour of duty and am getting a bit of welcome shore leave in before returning to my station. I love it over in England, but I have missed being here, too. That's the trouble with having only one body; I need clones.

More about the upcoming legs of this trip as they actually happen...
anarchist_nomad: (Guess who?)
( May. 26th, 2006 07:41 pm)
For the most part, this entry is really just an update on some things mentioned in previous entries this month.

  • First, in this entry, I talked about how the mailboxes all say "E II R", but how I had spotted an older one bearing "G VI R" from King George the Sixth's reign (1936 - 1952). [livejournal.com profile] polyfrog chimed in, pointing out that he had seen an older box, bearing the brand "G V R" (King George the Fifth reigned from 1910 - 1936). Well, I took a dinner break yesterday to grab some take away and, by chance, noticed a mailbox very near to the building where I work. I've seen in dozens of times, and it does have a large "E R" on it. However, I noticed last night that the small Roman numeral between the letters was not the usual "II". Nope, this box said "E VII R". Well, there has not been a Queen Elizabeth the Seventh yet... so either this mailbox has had access to the Tardis, or some other time travelling device, or it was put there during the reign of King Edward the Seventh, who ruled prior to George the Fifth, from 1901 - 1910. Now I have to keep an eye out for a mailbox bearing "V R", for Victoria Regina, who reigned before Edward the Seventh. There won't be a numeral, since she was the first (and, so far, only) Queen Victoria. I'm such a geek, I know.

  • Next, for those of you living in the United States, you can breath a sigh of relief, as your currency seems to have halted its nose-dive into the toilet. In this entry, I talked about how the dollar had plummeted from an exchange rate of $1.745/pound when I arrived in England -- two months ago today -- to about $1.845/pound. After that entry, the dollar continued to drop, hitting a low value of $1.891/pound on the same day that [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia arrived here. That's a 7.7% loss of value in a fairly short time! I am quite glad that I changed my cash before that, otherwise I would have lost a couple hundred dollars! Since then, however, the dollar has stabilized a bit... and even recovered some of its value. As of this evening, the exchange was back down to $1.857/pound:


    I'm really such a geek... I know!

  • Third, in last night's entry, I talked about attempting to cool down the K-400 cryostat with liquid helium. Although we found the reason that we were unsuccessful last night, we tried again today... and still had no luck. The problem of last night is definitely solved -- its symptoms are gone -- but there is some new problem, and we are not sure what it is yet. We used up all our helium blowing cold gas, with no significant accumulation of liquid in the cryostat. This is too bad, because the liquefier down the road is acting up again, plus there is a holiday weekend, so we will not get any more helium until Tuesday, at the earliest. Since I am leaving for Italy on Wednesday -- the tickets are now purchased -- I will not be able to cool down the cryostat before going to Gran Sasso. This is somewhat of a disappointment. However, I am gaining an appreciation for how complex these cryostats are... and how difficult it is to work with them. When properly cooled down, they are colder than the universe. That's pretty darn cold!



Finally, not related to any recent post, I have talked before about the state of particle physics in the United States and how it is being choked to death )

For the record, anyone getting bored by all the talk of physics that has beset this journal lately can blame [livejournal.com profile] blaisepascal and company for
asking me to write more about my work. For those who did ask, I hope that the recent commentary is interesting. If not, and you are being bored to tears by all this talk of liquid refrigerants and cryostats, just remember that experimental particle physicists have to do an awful lot of stuff (e.g., hardware construction, electronics, software, data analysis) before we reach any of the exciting physics results.
anarchist_nomad: (Guess who?)
( May. 26th, 2006 07:41 pm)
For the most part, this entry is really just an update on some things mentioned in previous entries this month.

  • First, in this entry, I talked about how the mailboxes all say "E II R", but how I had spotted an older one bearing "G VI R" from King George the Sixth's reign (1936 - 1952). [livejournal.com profile] polyfrog chimed in, pointing out that he had seen an older box, bearing the brand "G V R" (King George the Fifth reigned from 1910 - 1936). Well, I took a dinner break yesterday to grab some take away and, by chance, noticed a mailbox very near to the building where I work. I've seen in dozens of times, and it does have a large "E R" on it. However, I noticed last night that the small Roman numeral between the letters was not the usual "II". Nope, this box said "E VII R". Well, there has not been a Queen Elizabeth the Seventh yet... so either this mailbox has had access to the Tardis, or some other time travelling device, or it was put there during the reign of King Edward the Seventh, who ruled prior to George the Fifth, from 1901 - 1910. Now I have to keep an eye out for a mailbox bearing "V R", for Victoria Regina, who reigned before Edward the Seventh. There won't be a numeral, since she was the first (and, so far, only) Queen Victoria. I'm such a geek, I know.

  • Next, for those of you living in the United States, you can breath a sigh of relief, as your currency seems to have halted its nose-dive into the toilet. In this entry, I talked about how the dollar had plummeted from an exchange rate of $1.745/pound when I arrived in England -- two months ago today -- to about $1.845/pound. After that entry, the dollar continued to drop, hitting a low value of $1.891/pound on the same day that [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia arrived here. That's a 7.7% loss of value in a fairly short time! I am quite glad that I changed my cash before that, otherwise I would have lost a couple hundred dollars! Since then, however, the dollar has stabilized a bit... and even recovered some of its value. As of this evening, the exchange was back down to $1.857/pound:


    I'm really such a geek... I know!

  • Third, in last night's entry, I talked about attempting to cool down the K-400 cryostat with liquid helium. Although we found the reason that we were unsuccessful last night, we tried again today... and still had no luck. The problem of last night is definitely solved -- its symptoms are gone -- but there is some new problem, and we are not sure what it is yet. We used up all our helium blowing cold gas, with no significant accumulation of liquid in the cryostat. This is too bad, because the liquefier down the road is acting up again, plus there is a holiday weekend, so we will not get any more helium until Tuesday, at the earliest. Since I am leaving for Italy on Wednesday -- the tickets are now purchased -- I will not be able to cool down the cryostat before going to Gran Sasso. This is somewhat of a disappointment. However, I am gaining an appreciation for how complex these cryostats are... and how difficult it is to work with them. When properly cooled down, they are colder than the universe. That's pretty darn cold!



Finally, not related to any recent post, I have talked before about the state of particle physics in the United States and how it is being choked to death )

For the record, anyone getting bored by all the talk of physics that has beset this journal lately can blame [livejournal.com profile] blaisepascal and company for
asking me to write more about my work. For those who did ask, I hope that the recent commentary is interesting. If not, and you are being bored to tears by all this talk of liquid refrigerants and cryostats, just remember that experimental particle physicists have to do an awful lot of stuff (e.g., hardware construction, electronics, software, data analysis) before we reach any of the exciting physics results.
Ah, Thursday evening once again. Time for church bells... It has been three weeks since I last heard the ringing of the bells at St. Giles. Last week, at this time, I was at a production of The Gondoliers and, the week before, I had been forced out of my office by maintenance people who needed to turn off the power. I enjoy the bells as a part of my weekly experience, so it is good to hear them again.


So, why am I still at work past 8pm tonight -- especially when I have an important personal phone call scheduled in forty minutes? Well, after partially cooling down the K-400 cryostat last week, we ran out of liquid helium. And, of course, the liquefier down the road had broken once again, so we did not receive another dewar until this afternoon. For most of this week, a good fraction of our group was out of town (mostly at a workshop meeting in Sheffield), so I was the most senior person here. Just me and the post-graduate students. When it was evident that more liquid helium would be arriving, I spent yesterday evening pre-cooling the cryostat down to liquid nitrogen temperatures (77K). It was good to do it all by myself, as it demonstrates that I am becoming familiar with some of the cryogenic equipment. Also, my pre-cooling yesterday enabled us to get going on the helium transfer as soon as the dewar arrived this afternoon. We are still working on that now. In fact, with S taking a dinner break, I am writing this entry with frequent breaks to check on the helium transfer going on in the next room.


One of the reasons that it is personally important for me to get immediate experience cooling down a cryostat to sub-kelvin temperatures (which I have not yet done, as we ran out of helium too soon last week) is that I found out today that I will be travelling to Italy next week for my first trip to the Gran Sasso underground laboratory. The CRESST experiment is located in Gran Sasso, which means that I am quite excited about my upcoming trip. After nearly two months here at Oxford, I finally get to see the actual experiment that I am working on! The CRESST detectors are cooled by an S-1000 cryostat, which is larger and more complicated that the equipment that I am currently working on. However, by working with the K-400 now, I hope to have some familiarity when I arrive in Gran Sasso next week.

If I get the plane tickets that I requested today, I will be leaving on the evening of Wednesday (5/31/06) and returning on the night of the following Tuesday (6/6/6)... with a couple of hours to go sightseeing in Rome before I catch my flight. Should be fun; I have only been to Rome once (for a day) and that was some time ago, back in 2001. It will be good to make this trip; as of tomorrow morning, I will not have flown anywhere since I arrived in England two months ago. I'm not used to being grounded for so long! It is rare that I go a full calendar month without getting on board a plane; I did not fly anywhere in April and I am coming very close to not flying anywhere in May -- I plan to depart Heathrow at 8pm on May 31st! Only four hours shy of spending all of May on the ground! Not normal for this Nomad! It will also be good to see another underground laboratory. So far, I have been to two: the Kamioka mine (in Japan, where I spent countless hours) and the Soudan mine (in northern Minnesota, where I spent two days).

Of course, the one down side to this trip is that I will miss hearing the bells of St. Giles ring next Thursday evening.


My upcoming trip to Italy leaves me hopeful for a more sane weather situation, at least for a little while. I have found the weather in England to be completely alien to me, at least so far. I find that all my usual instincts about how to read the weather are simply wrong. After having a week of very nice weather when [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia was here, our weekend in London had intermittent rain all four days. There is actually a drought going on; one of the London papers proclaimed on the front page that it was the "Wettest Drought in History" as they went on to announce seven more days of rain!

Also, after having some beautiful Spring days a few weeks ago, the weather now seems to feel like early April most of the time. Yesterday saw bouts of torrential rain, sometimes pushed to forty-five degrees from the horizontal by the wind, and there was even a brief hailstorm! Ye gads!! Usually, I am wearing shorts and sandals in late May. Instead, I had to put on my jacket and arm warmers (knitted by [livejournal.com profile] resourceress) to stay warm in my office yesterday. Today, however, was much better. I came in wearing three layers -- tee shirt, sweater, and jacket -- but quickly was able to shuck two of them. On my way back from the dentist this afternoon, I was wishing that I had packed shorts to change into. Very odd weather, indeed! We shall soon see what Italian Spring weather is like.


Finally, since I mentioned the dentist, I should note that I had my first appointment today. I am still forming my opinion of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. I strongly favour nationalised health care, but that does not mean I support every implementation of it. In the UK, it is apparently challenging to find an NHS dentist, as many dentists only do private practice and many that take NHS are not accepting new patients. I did, however, find an NHS dentist who was recommended by my landlady. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I registered last month and I had my first appointment today.

Here is my experience so far: When I called to make an appointment, there was no date available for the next four weeks. Upon arriving at that appointment today, I was examined and out in ten minutes. No x-rays, no cleaning. Just a quick poke about in my mouth. The dentist proclaimed that my teeth look fine, except for a relatively large gap between the second and third molar on the upper left, and a similar gap between the first and second molar. Most likely, these gaps were caused by my bout of periodontitis a year or so ago. He wrote me a prescription for an antiseptic mouthwash and said he would see me in a year. Total cost for this ten minute visit: £15.50. The price is not bad, but I question how much was actually done. I shall be back in six months and, if no x-rays or cleaning come then, I may have to get a tad pushier about asking for them.


Okay, it is now 11pm. I took my important call two hours ago on a dinner break, while I walked to get take away from the Noodle Bar. My watch is beeping to remind me of [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, who is in Phoenix right now (with her watch beeping 3pm at her). Here at the University, we have stopped attempting to transfer helium tonight. Our efforts were unsuccessful, most likely due to a leak caused by an extension that we added to the transfer tube. The extension has been removed and we shall resume our efforts in the morning.

Time to say goodnight, Gracie...
Ah, Thursday evening once again. Time for church bells... It has been three weeks since I last heard the ringing of the bells at St. Giles. Last week, at this time, I was at a production of The Gondoliers and, the week before, I had been forced out of my office by maintenance people who needed to turn off the power. I enjoy the bells as a part of my weekly experience, so it is good to hear them again.


So, why am I still at work past 8pm tonight -- especially when I have an important personal phone call scheduled in forty minutes? Well, after partially cooling down the K-400 cryostat last week, we ran out of liquid helium. And, of course, the liquefier down the road had broken once again, so we did not receive another dewar until this afternoon. For most of this week, a good fraction of our group was out of town (mostly at a workshop meeting in Sheffield), so I was the most senior person here. Just me and the post-graduate students. When it was evident that more liquid helium would be arriving, I spent yesterday evening pre-cooling the cryostat down to liquid nitrogen temperatures (77K). It was good to do it all by myself, as it demonstrates that I am becoming familiar with some of the cryogenic equipment. Also, my pre-cooling yesterday enabled us to get going on the helium transfer as soon as the dewar arrived this afternoon. We are still working on that now. In fact, with S taking a dinner break, I am writing this entry with frequent breaks to check on the helium transfer going on in the next room.


One of the reasons that it is personally important for me to get immediate experience cooling down a cryostat to sub-kelvin temperatures (which I have not yet done, as we ran out of helium too soon last week) is that I found out today that I will be travelling to Italy next week for my first trip to the Gran Sasso underground laboratory. The CRESST experiment is located in Gran Sasso, which means that I am quite excited about my upcoming trip. After nearly two months here at Oxford, I finally get to see the actual experiment that I am working on! The CRESST detectors are cooled by an S-1000 cryostat, which is larger and more complicated that the equipment that I am currently working on. However, by working with the K-400 now, I hope to have some familiarity when I arrive in Gran Sasso next week.

If I get the plane tickets that I requested today, I will be leaving on the evening of Wednesday (5/31/06) and returning on the night of the following Tuesday (6/6/6)... with a couple of hours to go sightseeing in Rome before I catch my flight. Should be fun; I have only been to Rome once (for a day) and that was some time ago, back in 2001. It will be good to make this trip; as of tomorrow morning, I will not have flown anywhere since I arrived in England two months ago. I'm not used to being grounded for so long! It is rare that I go a full calendar month without getting on board a plane; I did not fly anywhere in April and I am coming very close to not flying anywhere in May -- I plan to depart Heathrow at 8pm on May 31st! Only four hours shy of spending all of May on the ground! Not normal for this Nomad! It will also be good to see another underground laboratory. So far, I have been to two: the Kamioka mine (in Japan, where I spent countless hours) and the Soudan mine (in northern Minnesota, where I spent two days).

Of course, the one down side to this trip is that I will miss hearing the bells of St. Giles ring next Thursday evening.


My upcoming trip to Italy leaves me hopeful for a more sane weather situation, at least for a little while. I have found the weather in England to be completely alien to me, at least so far. I find that all my usual instincts about how to read the weather are simply wrong. After having a week of very nice weather when [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia was here, our weekend in London had intermittent rain all four days. There is actually a drought going on; one of the London papers proclaimed on the front page that it was the "Wettest Drought in History" as they went on to announce seven more days of rain!

Also, after having some beautiful Spring days a few weeks ago, the weather now seems to feel like early April most of the time. Yesterday saw bouts of torrential rain, sometimes pushed to forty-five degrees from the horizontal by the wind, and there was even a brief hailstorm! Ye gads!! Usually, I am wearing shorts and sandals in late May. Instead, I had to put on my jacket and arm warmers (knitted by [livejournal.com profile] resourceress) to stay warm in my office yesterday. Today, however, was much better. I came in wearing three layers -- tee shirt, sweater, and jacket -- but quickly was able to shuck two of them. On my way back from the dentist this afternoon, I was wishing that I had packed shorts to change into. Very odd weather, indeed! We shall soon see what Italian Spring weather is like.


Finally, since I mentioned the dentist, I should note that I had my first appointment today. I am still forming my opinion of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. I strongly favour nationalised health care, but that does not mean I support every implementation of it. In the UK, it is apparently challenging to find an NHS dentist, as many dentists only do private practice and many that take NHS are not accepting new patients. I did, however, find an NHS dentist who was recommended by my landlady. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I registered last month and I had my first appointment today.

Here is my experience so far: When I called to make an appointment, there was no date available for the next four weeks. Upon arriving at that appointment today, I was examined and out in ten minutes. No x-rays, no cleaning. Just a quick poke about in my mouth. The dentist proclaimed that my teeth look fine, except for a relatively large gap between the second and third molar on the upper left, and a similar gap between the first and second molar. Most likely, these gaps were caused by my bout of periodontitis a year or so ago. He wrote me a prescription for an antiseptic mouthwash and said he would see me in a year. Total cost for this ten minute visit: £15.50. The price is not bad, but I question how much was actually done. I shall be back in six months and, if no x-rays or cleaning come then, I may have to get a tad pushier about asking for them.


Okay, it is now 11pm. I took my important call two hours ago on a dinner break, while I walked to get take away from the Noodle Bar. My watch is beeping to remind me of [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, who is in Phoenix right now (with her watch beeping 3pm at her). Here at the University, we have stopped attempting to transfer helium tonight. Our efforts were unsuccessful, most likely due to a leak caused by an extension that we added to the transfer tube. The extension has been removed and we shall resume our efforts in the morning.

Time to say goodnight, Gracie...
As mentioned previously, [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia came to visit me here in England for ten days. This entry attempts to chronicle that trip, which can be broken into three parts: A long weekend driving around the English countryside, a short week in Oxford, and another long weekend in London. Each part is behind a separate cut, for ease of navigation.

To supplement the written report, I will use various pictures that were taken (mostly by me) during the trip. To save bandwidth, I will make links to the pictures, rather than inserting them into the entry directly. Thus, to keep things simple, all links below go to a photograph.

[NOTE: The photographs will be added later, so check back if you want to see them. I will delete this note once the photo links have been added.]

So, without further ado, here goes:

Prelude: Friday 12 May in Oxford )

Part One: Weekend in Countryside (Sat 13 May - Mon 15 May) )

Part Two: Short Week in Oxford (Tue 16 May - Thu 18 May) )

Part Three: Weekend in London (Fri 19 May - Mon 22 May) )
As mentioned previously, [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia came to visit me here in England for ten days. This entry attempts to chronicle that trip, which can be broken into three parts: A long weekend driving around the English countryside, a short week in Oxford, and another long weekend in London. Each part is behind a separate cut, for ease of navigation.

To supplement the written report, I will use various pictures that were taken (mostly by me) during the trip. To save bandwidth, I will make links to the pictures, rather than inserting them into the entry directly. Thus, to keep things simple, all links below go to a photograph.

[NOTE: The photographs will be added later, so check back if you want to see them. I will delete this note once the photo links have been added.]

So, without further ado, here goes:

Prelude: Friday 12 May in Oxford )

Part One: Weekend in Countryside (Sat 13 May - Mon 15 May) )

Part Two: Short Week in Oxford (Tue 16 May - Thu 18 May) )

Part Three: Weekend in London (Fri 19 May - Mon 22 May) )
anarchist_nomad: (One Day More)
( May. 22nd, 2006 08:58 pm)
I did not go to see a play yesterday. Which makes it the first time in nearly a week that I did not. While [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia was here, she and I saw six plays during her ten day visit. Five of those were on consecutive nights, starting on Tuesday and going through till Saturday. Truth be told, we looked for a performance to see in London yesterday... but apparently Sunday is the day when all of the West End theatres are dark.

The first day that [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia was here (Fri 12 May) we went to Edward Albee's Three Tall Women at the Oxford Playhouse. As a big fan of Albee's work, I enjoyed the show while [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia slept. Then we took a break to have a three day weekend exploring the countryside... which I will try to write about in a future entry. We got back last Monday night, though, and began seeing a show every evening after:

Tue 16 May: Othello at the Old Fire Station Theatre in the Oxford city centre.
Wed 17 May: Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters at the O'Reilly Theatre in Keble College.
Thu 18 May: Gilbert & Sullivan's The Gondoliers at the Oxford Playhouse in the city centre.
Fri 19 May: Mel Brooks's The Producers at the Drury Theatre in the London West End.
Sat 20 May: My Name is Rachael Corrie at the Playhouse Theatre in London. (I saw this one alone while [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia watched a production of Titus Andronicus at the Shakespeare's Globe)

We were hoping to catch Christian Slater as Randal McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest on Sunday... but then we learned that that is when shows are dark. The production runs until June 3rd, so I may head back to London to try to see it with D&J before then, but who knows if it will actually happen.

As a huge theatre buff, this was quite a nice run of shows. I am pretty certain that I have never had five consecutive days of plays before. However, Oxford is rich with theatre and many shows come through for short runs that are quite affordable. Yet another reason I like it here. London's West End quite obviously reminds me of Broadway, especially since -- as a native New Yorker -- NYC is ingrained in my mind as the template to compare all other cities to. We even waited in the TKTS line to get our tickets to The Producers. No wonder it felt familiar! One notable difference is that, over here, first row seats are not considered to be very good. This is fine by me, as we were able to get front row center tickets just two hours before curtain!


On a completely different note, I found a very old mailbox when I arrived back in Oxford this afternoon, after sending [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia on her way to Heathrow. I know it was old because it said "G VI R" on it. Every other mailbox I have seen -- as well as the cop badges, the tunics of yeoman warders (also nicknamed "beefeaters"), and more -- are branded with "E II R" for Elizabeth Regina II, or Queen Elizabeth the Second. The "G VI R" stands for George Rex VI, or King George the Sixth... who reigned from 1936 to 1952. You would think they have had time to replace this mailbox by now!

Nothing significant here; it just amused me to make the find. However, I have observed that, with the monarch's initials on mailboxes, badges, etc. and her face on all of the coins and bills... well, there will be a lot of things needing to be re-made once Elizabeth has passed on the throne. I would go so far as to say that when a monarch here dies, it is a royal pain in the ass!

anarchist_nomad: (One Day More)
( May. 22nd, 2006 08:58 pm)
I did not go to see a play yesterday. Which makes it the first time in nearly a week that I did not. While [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia was here, she and I saw six plays during her ten day visit. Five of those were on consecutive nights, starting on Tuesday and going through till Saturday. Truth be told, we looked for a performance to see in London yesterday... but apparently Sunday is the day when all of the West End theatres are dark.

The first day that [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia was here (Fri 12 May) we went to Edward Albee's Three Tall Women at the Oxford Playhouse. As a big fan of Albee's work, I enjoyed the show while [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia slept. Then we took a break to have a three day weekend exploring the countryside... which I will try to write about in a future entry. We got back last Monday night, though, and began seeing a show every evening after:

Tue 16 May: Othello at the Old Fire Station Theatre in the Oxford city centre.
Wed 17 May: Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters at the O'Reilly Theatre in Keble College.
Thu 18 May: Gilbert & Sullivan's The Gondoliers at the Oxford Playhouse in the city centre.
Fri 19 May: Mel Brooks's The Producers at the Drury Theatre in the London West End.
Sat 20 May: My Name is Rachael Corrie at the Playhouse Theatre in London. (I saw this one alone while [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia watched a production of Titus Andronicus at the Shakespeare's Globe)

We were hoping to catch Christian Slater as Randal McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest on Sunday... but then we learned that that is when shows are dark. The production runs until June 3rd, so I may head back to London to try to see it with D&J before then, but who knows if it will actually happen.

As a huge theatre buff, this was quite a nice run of shows. I am pretty certain that I have never had five consecutive days of plays before. However, Oxford is rich with theatre and many shows come through for short runs that are quite affordable. Yet another reason I like it here. London's West End quite obviously reminds me of Broadway, especially since -- as a native New Yorker -- NYC is ingrained in my mind as the template to compare all other cities to. We even waited in the TKTS line to get our tickets to The Producers. No wonder it felt familiar! One notable difference is that, over here, first row seats are not considered to be very good. This is fine by me, as we were able to get front row center tickets just two hours before curtain!


On a completely different note, I found a very old mailbox when I arrived back in Oxford this afternoon, after sending [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia on her way to Heathrow. I know it was old because it said "G VI R" on it. Every other mailbox I have seen -- as well as the cop badges, the tunics of yeoman warders (also nicknamed "beefeaters"), and more -- are branded with "E II R" for Elizabeth Regina II, or Queen Elizabeth the Second. The "G VI R" stands for George Rex VI, or King George the Sixth... who reigned from 1936 to 1952. You would think they have had time to replace this mailbox by now!

Nothing significant here; it just amused me to make the find. However, I have observed that, with the monarch's initials on mailboxes, badges, etc. and her face on all of the coins and bills... well, there will be a lot of things needing to be re-made once Elizabeth has passed on the throne. I would go so far as to say that when a monarch here dies, it is a royal pain in the ass!

Last Friday, after a two week wait, we finally received a dewar of liquid helium... on the same day that [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia arrived for a ten day visit. Between balancing work on the cryostat and taking time off from work to be a tourist, my days have been packed to capacity with no time to spare for LiveJournal. I will catch up on my friends pages, reply to comments, and write about my recent sightseeing travels in England next week, after [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia has gone back to the States.

In the meantime, however, today is an important day and, as such, bears noting. One decade ago today, I graduated from Hampshire College. On May 18 1996, I received my Bachelor of the Arts degree and began my Division IV (which is Hampshire-speak for "the rest of your life"). In fact, it is nearly 7am in Massachusetts. Ten years ago right now, I had just held my bell ringing ceremony (Hampshire's tradition for students who are "Div-Free", or ready to graduate) at dawn, after being awake all night, with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, [livejournal.com profile] angryjim, [livejournal.com profile] ashnistrike, and [livejournal.com profile] adam_goss in attendance. It was a small ceremony with an extremely concise speech by me, then we all headed out to get early-morning bagels before finally going to sleep (as was not uncommon for us back then). Several hours later, somewhat sleep deprived, we would all awake and get ready for the official college commencement.

Ten whole years since I was an undergraduate. My goodness, the time does fly!
Last Friday, after a two week wait, we finally received a dewar of liquid helium... on the same day that [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia arrived for a ten day visit. Between balancing work on the cryostat and taking time off from work to be a tourist, my days have been packed to capacity with no time to spare for LiveJournal. I will catch up on my friends pages, reply to comments, and write about my recent sightseeing travels in England next week, after [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia has gone back to the States.

In the meantime, however, today is an important day and, as such, bears noting. One decade ago today, I graduated from Hampshire College. On May 18 1996, I received my Bachelor of the Arts degree and began my Division IV (which is Hampshire-speak for "the rest of your life"). In fact, it is nearly 7am in Massachusetts. Ten years ago right now, I had just held my bell ringing ceremony (Hampshire's tradition for students who are "Div-Free", or ready to graduate) at dawn, after being awake all night, with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, [livejournal.com profile] angryjim, [livejournal.com profile] ashnistrike, and [livejournal.com profile] adam_goss in attendance. It was a small ceremony with an extremely concise speech by me, then we all headed out to get early-morning bagels before finally going to sleep (as was not uncommon for us back then). Several hours later, somewhat sleep deprived, we would all awake and get ready for the official college commencement.

Ten whole years since I was an undergraduate. My goodness, the time does fly!
Well, taking it to the sidewalks, anyway...

[livejournal.com profile] resouceress and I just returned from Chicago, where we took part in the anti-war demonstrations that were organized for the third anniversary of the Iraq war. We began at 12:30 at Humbolt Park, where a feeder march was gathering. Although there were many feeders taking place, I saw a lot of people that I know at this particular one. That was good. The feeder march itself was vaguely dissatisfying, though. Can't quite put my finger on why, though I do know that the chants were very lame (lots of "Free Palestine" over and over, for instance) and directed by a single megaphone. As for the march, although it was unpermitted, the marchers were confined to the sidewalks by both the Chicago cops and the "peace police." At least no one tried to chant "Whose streets? Our streets!" as I find it ludicrous when a sidewalk-confined march does this.

After the march, there was a rally in Union Park, which was fairly typical as rallies go. And there was Food Not Bombs, serving a truly exceptional meal. Saw even more people there, like Ted and Jennie, which was nice. [livejournal.com profile] resourceress and I stayed through the rally, then decided to leave. We drove Jennie home and hung out with her for an hour or so, then we came home. This evening, there is a permitted march in the street down Michigan Avenue. However, I find that the appeal of marching down Michigan Ave at night on a Saturday is quite limited. This is, after all, the business district, so there will be almost nobody there on a Saturday night. If we could have marched down the street at lunchtime on a weekday, that would be far more attractive an event.

So I am glad that I went out for the demonstrations -- especially since this will be my last demo in Chicago for quite some time -- but I was less than impressed with how things went. The best parts of the day were seeing cool Chicago Anarchists one more time be fore I leave, eating the Food Not Bombs meal, and playing the five-gallon-tub drums with [livejournal.com profile] resourceress during the feeder march. There were a dozen or so drums and we had a good time banging on them.

Oh, one more amusing story from the day! One of the cool Anarchist people that I ran into today was [livejournal.com profile] lakenaiad. When she saw me, she asked if I had been in NYC a couple of weeks ago. I confirmed that I had been and she said that she thought she had seen me there. A quick comparison of dates and places verified that it was indeed me that she had seen. Friday night (3/3), after [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia and I had seen Rent, we went out again for a couple of hours. While we were out was when [livejournal.com profile] lakenaiad had seen us. Small world!
Well, taking it to the sidewalks, anyway...

[livejournal.com profile] resouceress and I just returned from Chicago, where we took part in the anti-war demonstrations that were organized for the third anniversary of the Iraq war. We began at 12:30 at Humbolt Park, where a feeder march was gathering. Although there were many feeders taking place, I saw a lot of people that I know at this particular one. That was good. The feeder march itself was vaguely dissatisfying, though. Can't quite put my finger on why, though I do know that the chants were very lame (lots of "Free Palestine" over and over, for instance) and directed by a single megaphone. As for the march, although it was unpermitted, the marchers were confined to the sidewalks by both the Chicago cops and the "peace police." At least no one tried to chant "Whose streets? Our streets!" as I find it ludicrous when a sidewalk-confined march does this.

After the march, there was a rally in Union Park, which was fairly typical as rallies go. And there was Food Not Bombs, serving a truly exceptional meal. Saw even more people there, like Ted and Jennie, which was nice. [livejournal.com profile] resourceress and I stayed through the rally, then decided to leave. We drove Jennie home and hung out with her for an hour or so, then we came home. This evening, there is a permitted march in the street down Michigan Avenue. However, I find that the appeal of marching down Michigan Ave at night on a Saturday is quite limited. This is, after all, the business district, so there will be almost nobody there on a Saturday night. If we could have marched down the street at lunchtime on a weekday, that would be far more attractive an event.

So I am glad that I went out for the demonstrations -- especially since this will be my last demo in Chicago for quite some time -- but I was less than impressed with how things went. The best parts of the day were seeing cool Chicago Anarchists one more time be fore I leave, eating the Food Not Bombs meal, and playing the five-gallon-tub drums with [livejournal.com profile] resourceress during the feeder march. There were a dozen or so drums and we had a good time banging on them.

Oh, one more amusing story from the day! One of the cool Anarchist people that I ran into today was [livejournal.com profile] lakenaiad. When she saw me, she asked if I had been in NYC a couple of weeks ago. I confirmed that I had been and she said that she thought she had seen me there. A quick comparison of dates and places verified that it was indeed me that she had seen. Friday night (3/3), after [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia and I had seen Rent, we went out again for a couple of hours. While we were out was when [livejournal.com profile] lakenaiad had seen us. Small world!
Although I have not written about it here -- the curse of being too busy to write during the most interesting times -- I recently made two trips to New York. The first was a one-day trip to Lawn Guyland to give a seminar at Stony Brook on my current research project (Auger). The second was a weekend trip with [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia and [livejournal.com profile] gyades and The Kiddo to visit [livejournal.com profile] pomoloco and to see Rent and just bum around the city a bit. That trip was much more interested and it is worth noting that [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia and I won the lottery for front row seats to see Wicked: The Musical. Very cool!

Anyway, despite the title, those New York trips are not the main focus of this entry. Instead, I wanted to note an article that appeared in the New York times last week regarding the mass arrests during the RNC. The article can be found here and the text is reprinted here. )

I find this article particularly interesting because the "group of twenty" cited within includes me; this is the group that I was arrested with. In fact, I happen to have known the anonymous woman (and her husband) that is the focus of the article for several years before we got arrested together at the RNC. And Rick Best, the lawyer mentioned in the article, is my lawyer for my "malicious prosecution" case against the city of New York... and he is a fellow graduate of Hampshire College. So, yes, this article particularly caught my interest, hence its posting here.
Although I have not written about it here -- the curse of being too busy to write during the most interesting times -- I recently made two trips to New York. The first was a one-day trip to Lawn Guyland to give a seminar at Stony Brook on my current research project (Auger). The second was a weekend trip with [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia and [livejournal.com profile] gyades and The Kiddo to visit [livejournal.com profile] pomoloco and to see Rent and just bum around the city a bit. That trip was much more interested and it is worth noting that [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia and I won the lottery for front row seats to see Wicked: The Musical. Very cool!

Anyway, despite the title, those New York trips are not the main focus of this entry. Instead, I wanted to note an article that appeared in the New York times last week regarding the mass arrests during the RNC. The article can be found here and the text is reprinted here. )

I find this article particularly interesting because the "group of twenty" cited within includes me; this is the group that I was arrested with. In fact, I happen to have known the anonymous woman (and her husband) that is the focus of the article for several years before we got arrested together at the RNC. And Rick Best, the lawyer mentioned in the article, is my lawyer for my "malicious prosecution" case against the city of New York... and he is a fellow graduate of Hampshire College. So, yes, this article particularly caught my interest, hence its posting here.
Today, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat came into the lab with me. On the drive in, about six miles away, we could see large smoke clouds rising up to the sky, clearly from a fire. On closer approach, we realized that they must have been originating from the lab. I correctly surmised that there was a prairie burn underway. The lab schedules such controlled burns regularly as part of the prairie restoration project. However, I have never before seen such a burn as there was today. We stopped at CDF to peer over the berm into the Tevatron ring. Large chunks of the inside of the ring were ablaze. Through the smoke, the mid-day sun shone down on us. The light was attenuated enough to look at directly, and the sun was bright orange. We went up to the top of the high-rise to get a better perspective. Most areas inside the ring were either burning or already scorched. Having a strong relationship with fire, I was rather impressed with the scene. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat was slightly horrified by all the burning.


That said, it has been several days since my last update with content. What has been happening this week? Here are events of note:

Saturday evening, while I was still at the Grove, I got a very clear look at the [Northern] Winter night sky. Diana's Grove is in an area with low light pollution, so many stars were visible, and I could even see the Milky Way faintly. Just before bed, [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia and I did some star-gazing. It was very cold, so I bundled up with five layers, then pointed different stars and constellations out to her... including her namesake. I found myself wishing that I had brought a telescope with me for the weekend. And, not for the first time, I found myself missing the clear skies of Arizona, where I could walk out and star-gaze almost any night that the whim struck me.

Sunday evening, I had a hard time sleeping... due to a very bad bout with stomach acid. This problem comes and goes, but it has been quite prominent of late. Once I move, I definitely need to find time to get this chronic problem looked at.

On Monday and Tuesday, there was another blood drive at the lab. When I arrived on Monday, I made another donation. I have been doing this for nearly nine years now; I should go back and track how many gallons I have given so far. Once again, I stuck with my new policy of not chewing the heck out of my right hand while my left arm is being punctured. Yay, me! After the blood drive, I went to a lecture on large extra dimensions. It didn't make my head hurt too much. In the evening, I attended my first CAN meeting in months. It was focused on Mayday planning. Sounds like this Mayday -- which will be the 120th -- there will be some significant events in Chicago organized by Anarchists. Very cool.

Tuesday, during the day, I began working on a year-long commitment that I had made during the weekend at Diana's Grove. This past weekend, ritual focused on elemental dedications. Except, instead of using the usual four culprits, the element set was Breath (instead of Air), Light (instead of Fire), Soul (instead of Water), and Being (instead of Earth). Ritual participants made a year and a day commitment to one of these elements, with each element carrying a different task that the dedicant commits to. In committing to Being, I was making a promise to take one action each week off the list of things I had meant to do but had not gotten around to. In making my dedication, my personal promise was to do one item per week from something that had sat for over a month on my to-do list and to do an additional item per week on something related to physics that went above and beyond any immediate pressing responsibilities to work. So, on Tuesday afternoon, I filled my first task.

Tuesday evening was a "Food For Thought" dinner, which are events organized for the lab's post-docs. We eat pizza and talk and one of the post-docs makes a presentation. At the last one, in December, I was the presenter. This time it was my friend, MW. After FFT, I hurried off into the city to go to the latest packing party for Midwest Books to Prisoners. On the way to BtP, I realized that Pazu, my Honda Civic, is only about 2200 miles away from hitting 111111 on the odometer. I know I am an uber-geek for caring, but I really want to see it hit that milestone -- and maybe photograph it -- before I leave for England next month.

Anyway, once I arrived at the packing party, I gave RA the financial analysis that I had done from the first year and a half of BtP receipts. She is going to use this information to try to apply for a grant for us. That would be excellent. She also had me write down a bio to go with the grant proposal. Last night, I spent most of my time filling book orders, which is not something that I usually do. Normally I either pack books or read letters or note prison restrictions. Filling book orders requires a different type of care, something better suited to [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism, though she was not feeling well enough to attend.

Tuesday night, for reasons beyond my comprehension, I could not fall asleep for a long time. I tried to sleep around 1:30am, but it wasn't happening. So I pulled out a stack of comic books instead. By the time I conked out at 4am, I had finally finished all of the prelude material for D.C.'s Infinite Crisis storyline. The pre-requisite reading from 2005 and 2006 includes a one shot special, 4 six-issue mini-series, a four-part Superman/Wonder Woman story, a five-part Justice League story, and a four-issue mini-series. That's thirty-eight issues of preliminary reading for a seven issue story. Go figure! Anyway, I read the final two items from this list last night and am now ready to begin the Infinite Crisis.

Today, as mentioned, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat came to the lab with me. We worked in my office during the day. In the afternoon, I went off to see the week's colloquium, which was entitled: Gender, Lies and Video Games: The Truth about Females and Computing. It was pretty good, though the speaker ran a bit long. During the colloquium, I sat next to [livejournal.com profile] madandrew and we exchanged comments -- both meaningful and snarky -- during the talk. Shortly after the presentation ended, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I came home for the evening. On the way, we stopped at the comic book store so that I could pick up my new books. I also snagged myself a copy of Alan Moore's V For Vendetta. I've been meaning to read it for about a decade and, with the movie about to come out, I should finally get to it before I see the adaption. And that's about it for today. I believe that I am going to call it an early night so I can make up some of the sleep that I did not get last night...
Today, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat came into the lab with me. On the drive in, about six miles away, we could see large smoke clouds rising up to the sky, clearly from a fire. On closer approach, we realized that they must have been originating from the lab. I correctly surmised that there was a prairie burn underway. The lab schedules such controlled burns regularly as part of the prairie restoration project. However, I have never before seen such a burn as there was today. We stopped at CDF to peer over the berm into the Tevatron ring. Large chunks of the inside of the ring were ablaze. Through the smoke, the mid-day sun shone down on us. The light was attenuated enough to look at directly, and the sun was bright orange. We went up to the top of the high-rise to get a better perspective. Most areas inside the ring were either burning or already scorched. Having a strong relationship with fire, I was rather impressed with the scene. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat was slightly horrified by all the burning.


That said, it has been several days since my last update with content. What has been happening this week? Here are events of note:

Saturday evening, while I was still at the Grove, I got a very clear look at the [Northern] Winter night sky. Diana's Grove is in an area with low light pollution, so many stars were visible, and I could even see the Milky Way faintly. Just before bed, [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia and I did some star-gazing. It was very cold, so I bundled up with five layers, then pointed different stars and constellations out to her... including her namesake. I found myself wishing that I had brought a telescope with me for the weekend. And, not for the first time, I found myself missing the clear skies of Arizona, where I could walk out and star-gaze almost any night that the whim struck me.

Sunday evening, I had a hard time sleeping... due to a very bad bout with stomach acid. This problem comes and goes, but it has been quite prominent of late. Once I move, I definitely need to find time to get this chronic problem looked at.

On Monday and Tuesday, there was another blood drive at the lab. When I arrived on Monday, I made another donation. I have been doing this for nearly nine years now; I should go back and track how many gallons I have given so far. Once again, I stuck with my new policy of not chewing the heck out of my right hand while my left arm is being punctured. Yay, me! After the blood drive, I went to a lecture on large extra dimensions. It didn't make my head hurt too much. In the evening, I attended my first CAN meeting in months. It was focused on Mayday planning. Sounds like this Mayday -- which will be the 120th -- there will be some significant events in Chicago organized by Anarchists. Very cool.

Tuesday, during the day, I began working on a year-long commitment that I had made during the weekend at Diana's Grove. This past weekend, ritual focused on elemental dedications. Except, instead of using the usual four culprits, the element set was Breath (instead of Air), Light (instead of Fire), Soul (instead of Water), and Being (instead of Earth). Ritual participants made a year and a day commitment to one of these elements, with each element carrying a different task that the dedicant commits to. In committing to Being, I was making a promise to take one action each week off the list of things I had meant to do but had not gotten around to. In making my dedication, my personal promise was to do one item per week from something that had sat for over a month on my to-do list and to do an additional item per week on something related to physics that went above and beyond any immediate pressing responsibilities to work. So, on Tuesday afternoon, I filled my first task.

Tuesday evening was a "Food For Thought" dinner, which are events organized for the lab's post-docs. We eat pizza and talk and one of the post-docs makes a presentation. At the last one, in December, I was the presenter. This time it was my friend, MW. After FFT, I hurried off into the city to go to the latest packing party for Midwest Books to Prisoners. On the way to BtP, I realized that Pazu, my Honda Civic, is only about 2200 miles away from hitting 111111 on the odometer. I know I am an uber-geek for caring, but I really want to see it hit that milestone -- and maybe photograph it -- before I leave for England next month.

Anyway, once I arrived at the packing party, I gave RA the financial analysis that I had done from the first year and a half of BtP receipts. She is going to use this information to try to apply for a grant for us. That would be excellent. She also had me write down a bio to go with the grant proposal. Last night, I spent most of my time filling book orders, which is not something that I usually do. Normally I either pack books or read letters or note prison restrictions. Filling book orders requires a different type of care, something better suited to [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism, though she was not feeling well enough to attend.

Tuesday night, for reasons beyond my comprehension, I could not fall asleep for a long time. I tried to sleep around 1:30am, but it wasn't happening. So I pulled out a stack of comic books instead. By the time I conked out at 4am, I had finally finished all of the prelude material for D.C.'s Infinite Crisis storyline. The pre-requisite reading from 2005 and 2006 includes a one shot special, 4 six-issue mini-series, a four-part Superman/Wonder Woman story, a five-part Justice League story, and a four-issue mini-series. That's thirty-eight issues of preliminary reading for a seven issue story. Go figure! Anyway, I read the final two items from this list last night and am now ready to begin the Infinite Crisis.

Today, as mentioned, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat came to the lab with me. We worked in my office during the day. In the afternoon, I went off to see the week's colloquium, which was entitled: Gender, Lies and Video Games: The Truth about Females and Computing. It was pretty good, though the speaker ran a bit long. During the colloquium, I sat next to [livejournal.com profile] madandrew and we exchanged comments -- both meaningful and snarky -- during the talk. Shortly after the presentation ended, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I came home for the evening. On the way, we stopped at the comic book store so that I could pick up my new books. I also snagged myself a copy of Alan Moore's V For Vendetta. I've been meaning to read it for about a decade and, with the movie about to come out, I should finally get to it before I see the adaption. And that's about it for today. I believe that I am going to call it an early night so I can make up some of the sleep that I did not get last night...
.

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