Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

No Shave November



Superbly shearless sheep.

I inadvertently decided to grow facial hair near the onset of No-Shave November an annual event that I did not know existed. I knew of the variant of Movember as an undergrad but never knew that many people to participate.

I am now ten days into not shaving and I still don’t know how I feel about it. I have been asking around for what I should do and there exists no uniform consensus (I decided to do this based on popular opinion). The one thing that has been brought up is that I need a haircut to accompany the emergent grad student beard.

Two concerns arise, the first being that I don’t know a good barber in Seattle and the second being I don’t know how to deal with the side-burn to beard transition area. I also just don’t like haircuts.

I have been trying to find a barber online using Google and Yelp, nothing has jumped out. I hope that if I ask some of the older grad students they will have a recommendation.


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Peer Pressure



An innocent sticker.

Over the past week I have succumbed to peer pressure, I am growing out some semblance of facial hair. Almost all of the men in my department have some sort of beard, mustache or stubble.

It has almost been a week now and I am reaching an important juncture: what to do with it? Do I keep going without shaving, do I start to form some feature (like a Fu Manchu?) or do I just give it all up and go back to clean shaven?

I hope to form an answer by Saturday.


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I love momentum.

I Love Momentum

Since watching this video yesterday it has been on repeat in my head all day.

I think it would actually make an interesting exercise. Write further lyrics to the song with things you love.

Boom de yada

Boom de yada

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Darwin Clown

The hat stayed on!

Today is Halloween. Hooray costumes and candy!


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Seattle Metro

A castle is rarely late.

Dear Seattle Metro,

Thank you for having the 11:20pm bus not arrive. I appreciate the opportunity to wait fifty minutes at night for the 11:50pm bus to show up. If I had known that you decided to not send that particular bus I would have walked home and made it in less time then the consequent wait and ride time.

Also I appreciate your concern in regards to wanting to raise the price of quarterly bus passes to $250, that is such a great idea that I could buy a decent bike each quarter and ride it in instead of taking an overpriced, unreliable bus system.


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Hybrids are probably better for traffic then my car.

Hybrids are probably better for traffic then my car.

A sudden revelation came to me while sitting morosely in traffic: traffics are compression waves!

This thought made me want to simulate traffic in a 1D or maybe 2D particle model. The cars on the road have a given linear density of car and so the rate at which braking is propagated back is much higher then the individual car velocity.

The best time to see the traffic compression waves is approaching an uphill slope at night, then the brake lights can travel down the line of traffic eventually to your own car.

Maybe some more time stuck in traffic at night will help flesh out the model of traffic waves.

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Seattle Vote

Only motorcyclist can exhibit Extreme Caution!

Only motorcyclist can exhibit Extreme Caution!

I filled out my ballot for the city of Seattle and King county elections. I am not sure if it is Washington or just this county but it is all vote by mail. The only small problem I have with this is that the envelope to return the ballot is labeled with my name and address. I know that I had to sign the CA absentee ballot but I don’t remember if it had my name and address.

While I don’t feel the need for anonymity for this election it is not something that I want to give up. I know that they probably separate out the ballots from the envelopes using one for elections and another to keep track of voter fraud but it would be nice if there was another way to do it. Maybe do a double envelope, with the ballet sealed within the outer envelope that has the name and signature on it. That way they can be sorted without seeing who is voting for what.

As my first Washington election it is pretty simply, there were no long winded, poorly written propositions posed by a small group like in California. Though the county by county results of various propositions are always fun to view.

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Day 1 of Rain: rained on twice, saw sunlight once (indirectly).

Day 1 of Rain: rained on twice, saw sunlight once (indirectly).

Today I interviewed with Exxon Mobil, or more accurately I interviewed with a recruiter from one of the Exxon Mobil research groups. He was mostly interested in those with a few years of grad school completely and more towards the geology of things. I just wanted to interview as practice and see if there was a possibility of jobs in my future.

Looks like a no. I was essentially told that a PhD in Space Science has little or no place in Exxon Mobil unless it is through transferring what I learn to a semi-related field like combustion research.

Combustion and space plasma are not quite as similar as one would hope. I think this effectively crushes my dream of selling out to the man. I will be forced by societal pressure to take a job at a University, NASA, a private space company or a start-up of some sort. No large corporation with career track job for me.

At least I got a free dinner, a USB light, a 10x rock magnifying glass and a small card listing the geological periods. All (except the dinner) nicely logo’ed with Exxon Mobil. Exciting times.

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Waiting in LineNum

They sure look slick.

They sure look slick.

In line at Safeway today I had a thought, what determine the probability that someone will switch lines?

I figure it has to rely on a decaying exponential that depends on time. These would increase the probability of switching lines:

  • Number of people in front
  • Length of other lines (if shorter)
  • Speed at which current line is moving
  • Size of cart/basket (if smaller)

While these factors would decrease the probability:

  • Number of people behind
  • Length of other lines if they are longer
  • Speed of other lines
  • Mobility of purchase load (if larger)
  • Time invested in current line
  • Loud or annoying people in other line

I am sure it is feasible to do a study on how often people do switch lines, likely similar to changing lanes in traffic. If that study exists or will one day exist I hope that a mathematical model is included. The major component will be e^(-α t) with α dependent on the person in line.

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22nd Birthday

It has been nice and sunny in Seattle recently.

It has been nice and sunny in Seattle recently.

Today was my 22nd birthday, it was not as exciting at other birthdays. Then again the last really exciting birthday was 18 as I could register to vote. 21 did not have the allure of alcohol that many see since I was in Scotland while I was 20 and the drinking age is lower there.

Twenty-two is sort of bland, like nineteen. It also happened to fall on a Wednesday this year, a Wednesday of the first full week of graduate school. As with many of my birthdays it happens right after I move somewhere new so I do not have any many established ties yet for parties and things. Next year should be better.

The most exciting thing was that my roommate got me an erotic cake and I called my Mom. Not in that order necessarily.

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