Archive for the ‘School’ Category


That store is ripe for a hooligan to change the P to a B.

Ever since I struggled to write a paper for a physics lab class and my friend introduced it me I have been a fan of LaTeX. Since that moment I have written everything that needed any sort of typesetting in TexShop for OS X.

Recently I needed to organize several papers for their references, I conveniently found in installation of BibDesk. This was a wonderful find. BibDesk was able to create my BibTeX file for my references as well as organize all of the PDFs for papers. With it I am able to now start a centralized organization for academic papers, something that will hopefully help me in the long run.

Furthermore it has helped me write my papers. I was able to load in a dozen papers related to my topic (Ganymede) and systematically read through the papers adding more information to my paper. The simple addition of a read checkbox to BibDesk makes the whole thing just work perfectly.

Of course after talking to a Windows using roommate about this I was only able to recommend LaTeX and BibTeX and not any neat front ends.


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Being away from it for a while I must admit that Santa Barbara did have a nice climate and location.

Last Friday (before the onset of illness) I had to give a five minute presentation as part of a teaching course, so I chose one of my favorite topics: Black Holes.

The toughest part was choosing the correct name for the presentation, I narrowed it down to three and had to choose from:

  • Dr. Schwarzchild: Or how I learned to stop worry and love the gravitational collapse.
  • Black Holes: Great Compact Object or Greatest Compact Object?
  • Falling In: A Black Hole story.

I realize now that I have a natural disposition towards naming talks with a colon.

After surveying my office I decided on the second title, though I am still quite partial to the first.


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Grad Student Holidays


Place Settings

A festive place setting.

Wednesday was my first official University holiday as a graduate student. I had no idea what to do.

Classes were cancelled but should I go in to the office? Should I still do work? Or do I take the whole day off (to do homework)?

I decided to go in for the amount of time I would have worked on Wednesday anyway. Most of my officemates were there but my advisor was not, perhaps I could have worked from home.

Then there is the issue of the university breaks between quarters. I am pretty sure that I don’t get any of that time off aside for maybe Christmas and New Years. No where does it say how many paid vacation days I have during the year, I assume I have some but it might all just be unofficial and between me and my advisor.

There is also the possibility of unpaid vacation time and I may tap into that for a family trip to Norway during the summer.

I should just clarify all of this with my advisor.


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Gorse Flowers

Flower in Ireland.

One of my fellow first years is heading off to Antarctica in the next day or so.

In any other group of people when I say that I want to make it down to Antarctica they either ask why or think of it as hard to do. However in my department when I say that people usually respond with “I have been there” or “I am going there in a few months” (well not all of the people say this).

It would just be so cool to be able to go down there for some legitimate scientific reason.

Listening to those that have gone down there it does not sound like an easy place to live.


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Pink Flower

A lovely set of pink flowers

Electrostatics is a hard subject.

The first week we learned all of the physics for the quarter, now it is just math heavy what with Green’s Functions and complex analysis.

If I make it through alive I will join an elite group who have passed through physics grad E&M.


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Unix Mail


Glad I did not need to sort these.

I had a departmental computer account set up for me, or at least I asked the IT guy to set one up for me. After I asked I never heard back about it.

Three weeks later my professor mentions something he showed me but he never did. He looks at his e-mail and he did send it to me, to my departmental e-mail address. I did not know that I had this e-mail address.

Turns out that I had an e-mail account and computer account set up but I was never told about it. Once I found this out I hunted down the IT guy and got the default password for the account. I then figure out how to set up forwarding.

However I noticed that I had about ten messages that I could get too, I know this since there was an error file with the names of the e-mails. Hoping a solution would turn up I continued on my way.

Today I logged onto my friends linux machine through SSH and saw a line at the top that I have never seen before “You have mail”. Odd I thought. I did not know what to do with this, so I blindly typed ‘mail’ and there it was. From here I could access the mail on my departments unix machines and finally read those e-mails.

I just could not forward the existing e-mails to a better e-mail account.

An important aspect of figuring out computer problems is knowing how to fiddle without breaking things or causing irrecoverable damage.

To get those messages I could probably use a modern mail client, I reasoned. I started up OS X Mail and tried to set up a new account based off my department server. Strangely it worked quite easily. I set up a temporary POP account, downloaded the messages, dragged them to an IMAP account and deleted the POP account.

It would have been nice if I knew I could do that from the beginning.

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My UC diploma with a certain someone's signature.

My undergraduate diploma finally made it to my parents house a week ago and the only part I wanted to see was the signature of the President of the Regents.

I am glad that I have that name on my diploma.


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Jackson Problems

One of the Greenlake docks.

One of the Greenlake docks.

Graduate Physics Electromagnetism is know as being difficult. In particular it has been noted among many who have taken the series that the homework can be slightly challenging at times. Most of this arrises from the pervasive usage of the Jackson text Classical Electrodynamics.

Unfortunately for me I now look forward to Jackson problems as they are easier then the ones my professor writes. If not easier they have easier to access help online in the way of physics forums and even posted solutions to some of the problem (though this rarely help).

Overall I have decided I dislike problems that involves words like ‘proof’, ‘prove’ and ‘corollary’. Especially if they are all in the same sentence.

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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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Moving Out

Not as bad as it could be.

Not as bad as it could be.

After graduation yesterday I had to move out of the dorms amid the crowds of graduation. This year I lived in an eight person suite so we had a lounge in which to stage things.

The one problem with the situation as that I was the last to move out and consequently I was in charge of cleaning up the lounge. I must say that everyone left some pretty good stuff, there were Magic cards, textbooks, a nice hat, laptop case, small TV and a lot of playing cards.

Now today is spent driving up the coast to home. Eventually the fact that I graduated will sink in. Eventually.

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