Friday, September 27, 2013

The bewitching hour(s)

Dear Diary,

I swear this is true:  It is impossible to get any work done during the week.  It is also impossible to get work done during the weekend.

The only time that actual productive work gets done?  A mystical second wind appears to give you a magical boost 5:30-7:30 pm on Friday evenings and Tuesdays around 9 am (this is when you fix what you messed up between 5:30-7:30 pm on the previous Friday).  Any other time is notoriously unproductive; it's as reliable as the sun rises.

Lucas had me fit an LDA functional for a few weeks now, and I finally got reasonable looking numbers.  Sure, there's a big discrepancy between using the numbers from the Kohn-Sham opposed to the LDA, but that's what Tuesdays at 9 am are for!

Paint has literally been drying faster than I've been able to work through this, but I feel like it's a big milestone in this little mini-project.  Now that we have the functional nearly fit, I can start running the programs that depend on those numbers and get to work on the next perplexing mini-issue.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My little secret

Dear Diary,

I've been keeping a secret from you. I failed my first qualification exam but SHH! Don't tell anyone!

Here, they don't give you your score, so it's really not possible to tell how I did on it, but they do tell you if you either passed, failed, or should get out of graduate school.  This second time, I passed after studying the previous exams and problems from the courses for several weeks.  It was such a relief that I missed this morning's seminar on the imposter syndrome!

But there's lots of work to be I have to see what classes I'm taking...and work with physicists...and not earn nearly as much money as everyone else I know who has a job...and work with professor Burke for however many years he sees fit...and write this blog...

Oh God.  I've made a huge mistake passing the exam--it's too late!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

We don't need no education

Dear Diary,

Whew!  What a day!  With Professor Burke away, I had to cover his math preparation course.  When I walked in, the students couldn't even tell that there was someone different teaching them (or was it Professor Burke the whole time and I'm at the conference?!).

A few days ago, Professor loosely mentioned to me that I should book the conference room in order to have a place for those young students to take their quizzes and sit.  I went over to the chemistry office and signed out the conference room, writing my name down in the book, and getting the key.

Before the lecture, I had to familiarize myself with all the course material.  So, I made solutions for all the quizzes they were about to take (on differential equations, basic complex analysis, and linear vector spaces) and read key passages of the book ("Basic Training in Mathematics" by R. Shankar...a big name in applying Quantum Field Theory methods to condensed matter systems...Happy 80th birthday year, Shankar!).  Unfortunately, as soon as I walked in the door, they asked me a question I hadn't reviewed!

So, I had to improvise a bit, but it worked out well.  30 minutes later, they were taking their quizzes.  Hopefully now they'll pass the differential equations quiz, but I have to find out since I need to grade and send the scores to the boss before the end of today!  I even answered one question about Hessians, huzzah!  The students seem to be a little worn down...but they're sure learning a lot!

Oh, and I made sure to return the key so someone else can use it.

Room Cleaning

Dear Diary,

Everyone went out of town to UCLA (or is that just in a different part of the same town?) for a conference on semi-classics.  Professor Burke sure finds a lot of these conferences to go to!

Since everyone is out of the office, I figured I'd do a little cleaning and OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT?!  I think it's a keyboard!  It's FILTHY!  The keyboard for the mac computer in the corner looks like an orphan boy from the street in 19th century England.  Something must be done post-haste!

Mysteriously, the return key is completely clean.

I unplugged the computer and took it to the bathroom for a soapy, water filled cleaning.  It's now squeaky clean.  So long as I don't plug it back in for a few hours (a day?) it should work perfectly according to several Youtube videos and prior experience.  Now, when we have guests, they should have the vintage clean feel of an immaculate keyboard.  Did I just see it sparkle cleanliness in the fluorescent lights?  I think so!

Unfortunately, I didn't notice this yesterday.  With apologies to Attila and Professor Gross!

[Editor's note: One can also rectify dirty mouse wheels on the Apple computers by unplugging it, dropped some water in the wheel and working the dirt out.]