Thursday, May 30, 2013

Less time programming, more time lunching

Dear Diary,

In order to make things more mechanical and avoid my clumsy human error, I made some shell scripts to run the programs for different parameter values.  Everything now works after one click and I don't have to reset everything by hand each time I want to rerun the program.

You see, all the terminal commands that you would normally put into the terminal can be loaded in a text file (extension: .sh) that begins with #!/bin/sh so that when you run the (by typing ./, the commands are run in order in the terminal.  You see, diary, technology has made life better.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Meet the new guys

Dear Diary,

Professor Burke is taking on summer interns for reasons unclear.  In principle, they'll get some work experience.  In practice, they might try to take my job.  I've decided that everyday I will come in early and leave later than everyone to make sure that no one takes my desk or my wall calendar.

This will also allow me time to work on some things on my project.

Lucas was really nice in explaining some things from his notes today.  I learned what a Wigner crystal is!  It's a solid where background positive charges localize electrons.  Lucas used it to derive a low density limit expression for what everything should look like.  I can't wait to tell the boys back in the astronomy office that I got to work with a theoretical Wigner crystal.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Building Keys

Dear Diary,

I paid a visit to the Chemistry office to get keys today.  The secretary prefers to deal with keys between 1pm and 3pm, so I had to plan that out.  Professor Burke signed a form and sent an email to make sure I was legit.  I also fortunately had the one time $25 deposit.

Monday, May 27, 2013

My First Journal Club and Seniority Battles

 Dear Diary,

At group meeting today, the chores were re-alloted.  So were the desks.  The selections were determined by seniority.  For the record, the order was

Professor Burke

I assume that undergraduate Kevin is somewhere in the middle, but he didn't come to the meeting.

Professor Burke decided to keep his office and Lucas took Stephano's desk. Everyone else passed on Lucas' old desk, so I now occupy a small corner desk with a lovely photo of a tropical beach on an American Lung Association calendar. Next month: The Grand Canyon! I also scored a sweet peg-board for important looking notes.

As soon as the new post-doc arrives, we will be shuffling the desks again.  I'll have to find a way to make sure that he doesn't want my desk because clearly it's the best one and the envy of everyone in the group.

A second seniority draft was held for computing resources.  People tend to get rid of their older, noisier computers for newer, quieter computers.  Li wanted something running a Mac operating system and some shuffling occurred sending Justin's machine to Li, Raphael's to Justin, and Raphael getting a new computer.

Professor Burke reassigned chores.  It looks like someone has to take John and Lucas's old jobs, so I'll be both the new group meeting note taker and web manager!  Lucas' job will be hard to perform since he has the refined dry wit and humor of a cartoon in the New Yorker.  I'm worried that they'll soon learn my humor of choice is physical comedy and that it won't translate onto the page.  John has given me stern warnings to always be funny which I suppose includes continuing to post mathematically themed cat pictures on the website.  I'll also have to learn how to program a website...

We then had a journal club where people brought in papers to share by giving a short presentation.  Everyone should always have a backup, peer-reviewed paper handy, so I've decided to carry a printout in my back pocket and put a copy on the pbe server under /elib/tex just in case there's a sneak-Journal Club attack.

Professor Burke finished by telling us how rotten the academic job market is, how professors never have time for anything fun, and the likelihood that we'll all have to become dancers after the sequester takes away all our funding.  The good news is he was able to clear out his unread email messages over the Memorial Day vacation.  Hooray!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Professor Burke, I presume?


Professor Burke stopped me in the hallway during my meeting with Lucas because he's looking for someone to pretend to be him at functions where he's double booked.

It's sort of like the movie Dave where a guy impersonates the president.

In particular, the department throws tours in the spring so that prospective students can survey the department and avoid making the biggest mistake of their physics careers.  Professor Burke wants someone to present a poster on the research that we're doing.  Thinking back on all the conversations we've had, I'm trying to see if I've been talking to Professor Burke or a body double.  In the future, I'll have to be on my toes about this.  I think one time Aurora sat in for Professor Burke at a group meeting.

He was also dismayed that I got a haircut (due to excessive friz), because I don't look quite like Dr. Who as much anymore, and he wanted a photograph.  I'll have to start using conditioner and grow it out again.  So, I need to start bringing in a jacket, scarf, and the current iteration of my good-looking female side kick with whom I have a strictly platonic adventurship with from time and space to time and space.  I am to leave my TARDIS and daleks at home.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Working towards As while learning C(++)


Classes have really been eating into my research time.  I successfully ran the codes that Lucas told me about.  I've decided to pick up on code while I learn what it means to maximize my working time.  They say that it's better to start working on something right away than read a lot of literature first.  That's because you can be productive while you pick up the finer points of the research.

The group likes to use C++, but my background is in Fortran.  There seem to be a lot of online sampler programs and books in the library that I want to use to learn C++.