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Posts Tagged ‘UCSB’

The morning sun through the smoke as ash fell on campus.

The morning sun through the smoke as ash fell on campus.

The fires are over in Santa Barbara, or at least over in that those evacuated can return. In the past I have either been out of the country for the big Santa Barbara fires or they have been in non-threatening locations like Gaviota Pass.

This time though I know at least three people directly effected.

My classmate was evacuated Wednesday at 3am, he had a flight in the morning out of LAX. While he was not displaced that much from the fires he did not  have a chance to pack and wound up moving back in at 1am Monday morning. For him he was just greatly inconvenienced.

My Astrobiology professor had a stroke of luck. Evacuated Wednesday that night he saw his house on TV with the angle showing flames leaping up from his roof line. Eventually he found better footage and found that his neighbors house had burned down. The house across the street burned down. His other neighbor had their yard burned down. His roof took some superficial fire damage but otherwise survived.

A professor who I had for sophomore lab, and who wrote me a letter of recommendation, lost his house. The fire engulfed it and burned it down. I have not heard anything from the department yet about, but I would not be surprised if there is a fund or some sort of communal support from the students.

But now this fire is over, but it will not the last of the year. Last summer the entire state was on fire, hopefully this year will not be as flammable as the last.

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A sweet capacitor bank.

A sweet capacitor bank.

Last fall UCSB registered the most new voters out of any US college campus, as a result we are getting a free Death Cab for Cutie concert.

To get in they started handing out wristbands (acting as tickets) at about 9 o’clock this morning. Some people camped out the night while other showed up in the wee hours of the dawn. I had class at nine so I walked by the line, hoping that it would not be too bad after my class.

After class I waited for roughly thirty minutes and got a wristband guaranteeing me entrance to the concert tomorrow night.

An hour later I walked by and saw no line and still wristbands available, glad I did not wait all night.

To be fair I don’t think I have heard much Death Cab for Cutie but the factors such as friends and free have enticed me to go.

Hope I like them, I have a general relativity midterm the morning after the concert.

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Torrential rain is the best kind at UCSB.

Torrential rain is the best kind at UCSB.

 

 

Rain in Santa Barbara is by far my favorite time of year, I do not know mean the light drizzle or small half hour spurts of water, rather the full day of torrential rain. The campus feels so clear and perfect. Giant pools of clear water litter the ground, streams of water flow over gravel and roots. Buildings gain new stained faces as the water pours down.

A new sound overrides the background of the ocean; the slow drip and splash of water coalascing down trees. Eucalyptus are in full fragrance as water flows over the leaves into fat drops landing heavily onto the ground and unsuspecting heads.

Many people do not know how to handle rain. Plastic bags make an appearance as ponchos and seat covers, over backpacks and shoulder bags. Some embrace the rain to fully absorb as much as possible while others deck out in wellies, umbrellas and jackets. Class attendance drops, everyone stays inside (except the surfers), bike and skateboards evaporate off the paths. Some persist in order to elicit smiles from walkers drier under umbrellas.

And then there is the one person biking around with an umbrella held directly in front.

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Rainy Photography

 

Rainy days have such great sunsets.

Rainy days have such great sunsets.

Today it rained in Santa Barbara for the first time in a while that combined with me finishing lab early required, nay demanded that I go out and take photos. The rain drops falling on the lagoon, the moody sky rife with distinct clouds and a gentle cool to the afternoon drew me out immediately upon getting home.

Of course I have no actual experience taking photos in the rain. Thinking of this on the way home I came up with a quick and sort of efficient system.

I started off with my camera on my tripod and a plastic bag over the camera. I had all of my gear in my Streetwalker and an umbrella in my off hand. When I wanted to take a photo I put the tripod down (either tripodding or monopodding), hung the plastic bag on the tripod and held the umbrella in either the hand adjusting the zoom or between my head and shoulder. It was slightly awkward and I really wish I had zip-tied the umbrella directly to the main shaft of the tripod. Maybe a clip of some sort.

Changing lenses was surprisingly easy. I discovered that I can hang my bag on my tripod for extremely easy access to all of my stuff plus a small clean platform to do the lens changing. And no water got into my camera body (always a plus).

I did manage to drop my lens into the sand though. I thought I had secured, I picked it up and slow motion kicked in as it fell. Plopped on the sand I feared the worst, I snatched it up to find that only the lens cap had hit the sand, no optics or mechanical parts were damaged. A UV filter (that I only use as dust protectors now) did manage to make a journey into the sand.

I need to streamline the whole photographing rain thing, I just have so little opportunities to do so here in Santa Barbara.

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Sea of Bikes

 

Bicycles, bicycles, everywhere. Not a drop to drink.

Bicycles, bicycles, everywhere. Not a drop to drink.

I realize looking back over the week that I have not had any substantive posts aside from the first one which was a procrastination method. Even though I have had a lot of free time I suppose that it is due to a lack of bandwidth from studying and taking finals. Especially from taking finals.

I did take a small break, sort of a break, during the week where I went out with my camera for the first time in a few weeks. The library was a prime target for photographs since about two thirds of the schools population is currently living there in a hopes to catch up on ten weeks of skipped lectures. While I did not venture into any of the higher levels the swarm of bike laying siege to the main entrance was evidence enough for finals week.

Photographing this invariable swarm of pedal powered vehicles a walking cell phone conversation summed up the scene nicely:

“I am totally lost in a sea of bikes right now”.

It was so dense you could have floated a kayak.

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Fencing, get it, fencing.

Fencing, get it, fencing.

I had my first fencing tournament today at Cal Poly (SLO). I was competing in the mixed novice foil competition against about fifty other people. After the first five bouts, which are used to determine which pool I go into and initial rank, I was placed at 36th out of the fifty. Not too hopeful.

After we were placed into pools we had direct elimination bouts until only one person remained (I mean all of us did live in the end). I manage to win my way up to the top eight fencers. Then I lost to a friend from club, Alexei, who went on to come in first. I feel better knowing that the person I lost too was both from my club and also won overall. This gives me the illusion that I could have come in at least second if the matchings had been different.

I am fairly confident that this match was for all of California as there were people from Davis to (I think) San Diego. If that is the case then I am happy with being 8th in the state for novice foil. I know that one tournament cannot decide that (I was 31th nationally in the UK for Novice Gents Indoor Recurve or 171st for UK Gents Indoor Recurve) but it does feel good to have a nice ribbon.

Admittedly I wish I had won first, or at least received a metal.

Oh and it is called the Turkey Tournament since there is large turkey feed afterwards for those who wanted to go, we passed and went to In ‘N Out burger.

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UCSB GOLD

 

A nice useful sign.

A nice useful sign.

Every school has their own system to register classes. At my school, the University of California Santa Barbara, the system is online and has been recreated since I started here. In principle it works well, you are given three time slots in which you can add or drop classes. The first one allows you to sign up for only 13.5 units (the average is 15 a quarter), the second pass is for the rest of the classes and the third pass is during the actual quarter for dropping classes and the like.

The actual pass time is very important, especially the first one. They are assigned based on a mixture of units completed, class standing and several other factors. The one affecting me is the honor’s program. The reason I joined the honor’s program was to gain priority registration to get all of the classes I need. My pass time for next winter was this morning while my roommate, another senior, has his three days from now.

The priority registration was more important in my freshman and sophomore years (my third was abroad so it had no effect) when I was signing up for non-physics courses either for fun or for General Education requirements. During these two years it was a real possibility to not get a class or get it at an awkward time (8 am sections did not fill up fast).

Now that I am a senior all of my classes are within the Physics department (aside from one GE left) so I do not have the luxury of considering alternative schedules. All of my classes fit together with little room for schedule choices. Also I have never worried about physics classes filling up, aside from lab sections (6pm-9pm labs are not ideal). If they did fill up it is easy to request an add code (special departmental permission to join a full class) to get into the class anyway.

I have only encountered one glitch in the entire registration system — prerequisites. I started with almost a full year of course credit from AP tests and this year I do have a complete year of physics course credit from studying abroad. This credit counted for a lot of the prerequisites for other classes. For example my Calculus AP test let me skip two quarters of math. The problem is that while I have credit for these classes GOLD does not recognize them as the actual prerequisite. Since I took a version of, say, Physics 100A abroad, when I signed up for a lab class today that required it would not let me. The same thing has happened a couple times in the past and I have even lost my ideal lab section (it always seems to be labs).

Fortunately I have found a way to cheat the registration system to get these classes. For almost all classes the prerequisite can be taken concurrently. So by signing up for the prerequisite that is needed in the same quarter it lets you sign up for the class you want. Now instead of keeping the prerequisite you can just drop it and have the ideal class remain. Since there is a 13.5 unit cap on the first pass time this does require some planning as at least four free units are needed to do the swap.

This morning I went to sign up for the physics senior lab course. It required that I take Physics 115A Quantum Mechanics. I am in 115C right now and did 115A abroad. I thought that I had petitioned for course credit but it looks like it did not go through. So I went to sign up for 115A to do my trick of swapping classes. I could not. 115A required 100A which I also took abroad. So I had to sign up for Math 124A (100A alternative since 100A is not offered this quarter), then 115A and finally my lab class. Then I went and dropped 124A and 115A which left with my just my lab class as I originally wanted.

While each school has their own registration system, some may not even be online yet, I am sure this workaround can be used on other online registration systems.

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