Tuesday, December 31, 2013

March Meeting Timeslot


I just got confirmation that I registered correctly.  My March Meeting time is at 11:15 am on the Monday of the conference during the DFT extravaganza!

I poured over the email they sent and see everything is in order.  Now, I have to work hard and make sure I can get results before the meeting.  We're trapped on one little snag.  Miles sent me an email over the break saying he was pushing DMRG to infinity and beyond!

I'm pushing everything related to getting over this bump to the top of my list.  Tomorrow, I'm working on that alternative route that Kieron foist upon me.  I estimate that I need to get this thing done before the end of the month since the conference is fast approaching.  Hopefully it goes much faster.  The rest of what I need to do amounts to running some calculations that Lucas defined very well for me.

Ok, it's montage music time!  Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Working Hard(ly)

Dear Diary,

It's vacation time, and I've taken the unusual step of not checking my email during the first few days.  You know, all 500 of them (!).  I've decided to postpone a little longer because, and this is true, most of the things that people are reminding me that I forgot are totally my fault and actually necessary but I can't do any of them.

As it would just so happen, the graduate student luck has followed me back to Pennsylvania where, and this is also true, if you get up early enough in the morning, your nose dribblies will freeze as you breathe in.  This is not an occurance greeted warmly!  My parents' computer from 13 years ago is now so old that I have convinced them that an update from Windows to Linux is in their best interest.  It's right up my alley to install it with my unix know-how!  The problem is not that the computer can not handle it; rather, I've run into a bunch of tiny snags!

At first, I made them a live USB, but the computer wouldn't boot from it.  Then I tried using a CD, but we didn't have a writeable CD over 700MB.  Then I tried doing a minimal Live CD, but it wouldn't detect the wireless connection and the ethernet cable was about one meter too short.  I had it stretched all the way from the basement!  The whole thing has felt like how research goes: get a good idea and watch it fail--repeatedly...now, I'm thinking we should just spend $60 on Ebay or work on something else (just like research!).

To make matters worse, Kieron wanted some pictures I made, but lacking any access to a computer with a unix terminal, it might have to wait until the 29th when I go through my (new tally:) 514 emails.  There is a program made just for these circumstances called Putty which works on Windows machines, but I can't log into the modeling facility.  Maybe they block every IP address from outside a 500 mile radius or my computer can detect that I'm a graduate student doing things at the last minute and wants to mess with me or (most likely) it's crashed and I'll have to manually reboot it.  I wouldn't be surprised if my computer has gained artificial intelligence is playing jokes.  I also can't remember anybody else's computer name, so that's on me.

Anyway, the break is welcome. I've been so relaxed I can't do basic math or spell very well any more.  It's my first real break in a hard eight months, and I'm totally exhausted.  Hopefully, I can get some of my focus, patience, and creativity back if I take it easy.  It's hard to stay away, though, and I might read some things tomorrow.  Anyway, happy Kweznus, Diary!

[Editor's note: "Kwenus" is actually spelled C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s]

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The 2014 March Meeting

Dear diary,

Justin and I finally decided to make travel plans and hotel arrangements for the 2014 March Meeting.  We went onto the internet and found some very cheap airfare especially since its from the nearby airport and not LAX.  I paid for both of us (he's broke!).

Then we got another very cheap hotel room (with two beds!) that isn't too far from the conference center.  Quite a good haul, we thought!

To get reimbursed for the travel funds, I emailed Jenny, our super-duper faculty assistant.  She helped me send her the right information including the receipts from the conference registration fee, airline fare, and hotel cost.  Right now, I can only get the first two, so I'll have to make sure I save enough to get by until after March.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Final Countdown

Diary!  Dearest!

Li made some models for us and now we're going to compare!  He sent back the energies his models predicted and I compared them with what I ran.

But I can't tell you how it turned out!

Instead, to keep everything double blind, I'm sending him my remaining data (the stuff he hasn't seen), so he can make graphs of his own.  Since I just sent Kieron my graphs, Li will show up with hopefully the matching graphs tomorrow!

Utter excitement!  I'm going to go home now and see if I can't sit still more than a few minutes in anticipation!

I couldn't even update my notes about this.  They'll so stunned (or disappointed!)

Friday, December 6, 2013

John's Dance Performance Review: A+

Dear Diary,

John is performing in some dance shows tonight at 8pm and tomorrow at 2 and 8 pm.  He let me sit in on the dress rehearsal Wednesday night and I really enjoyed it!

I went to the Claire Trevor Dance theater and stood in line while everyone was seated. It was a different crowd then I see on this side of campus, some people even smelled nice. Nobody knew what an electron was. A brave few were wearing short shorts (which was confusing because I was cold* in a jacket).

The actual performance is divvied up into separate pieces with a subset of the dancers.  The first seemed to be an exercise in direction.  Performers are often given directions in terms of moving spatially on the stage (to stage left or stage right or upstage or downstage), but the opening piece seemed to dabble in coordinating in stage time having performers all offset themselves temporally like the instrument tracks on The Beatles' Blue Jay Way.

If the first piece represents a spread of a individual performers circulating around a central theme, the second piece is more centrally focused on placing a performer either individually or with an ensemble of other performs in that central theme and letting the ensemble push them to a very intense peak...or just letting the dancers patience and hard work communicate.

One of the most articulate, poignant pieces of dance I have seen appears here.  I will let the performance speak for itself, but needless to say it's worth paying close attention to it. You'll know which one I'm talking about.

The pieces cover a broad range of thematic elements from very precise personifications of out of body concepts (growth, delicacy, etc.) to more abstract communications through dance.  John finally appears where a trio of handsome, super toned dudes is required, so it's an obvious fit.  This pieces seemed to be an ode to the sort of power from the human personality and body that peppers lots of Greek mythology.  This was one of many times that I really noticed the lighting playing a perfectly natural role in the dancer's performance, but really every piece seems tuned in both costume, lighting, and smoke machines.

One piece in act two in particular was a delight. It managed to enlarge my perception of the stage spatially.  Dancers in the piece that I'm talking about are constantly exchanging themselves over a relatively small area;  I imagine the piece has the same effect as a school of fish would on a predator and pleasantly forced my focus on the wide variety of dances everywhere.  This might be construed as a slight against the performance, but it's not. Instead, it's a very effective technique that the dancers performed well.

I would caution that this might have something to do with where I was sitting (meaning, the middle and slightly stage right).  In retrospect, I would have like to have sat at the back for the first act since a lot of the performances stack the players from front to back on the stage and I may have missed the back end players.  However, the second act lends itself to a seat that it right up front to catch the textural interchanging that I've been talking about.  It might be worth thinking about that briefly before you head to the performance.

John returns for another piece that surely required an acrobatically intense training. I don't want to spoil anything, but it's good.

The final piece seemingly returns to the adventures in stage time that were present in the first piece and here the lighting almost acts like another performer.  I thought I caught thematic threads from all the previous pieces sewn up nicely in this ultimate piece.  Even the lighting plays a powerful role in this last piece; the performers artistically threw themselves and the kitchen sink in this one to cap off a great show.  The director keeps the surprises coming frequently with strength.  You might even want to go twice.



Guest written by John.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

In the Double Blind

Dear Diary,

I finally got the data to run after hitting a few snags.  The cluster really does wonders with computing time!  I was able to run about 200 runs overnight by writing shell scripts to automate the submission to the queue.  Before, I'd just run it on my computer and it took about a week or more depending on the system.

From the sampling of data, I took ten sets and sent them to Li to make this quasi-double blind.  He'll take the data and try to reproduce the curve I have made with the whole data set.  We'll see what happens!

Now, I suppose that Li could waltz on into my office with a package of dark chocolate imported from Belgium and suggest that I hand over all the data before I'm supposed to, but there's all this scientific integrity thing. Drat.

Kieron also asked me for a Christmas present.  I am to determine the entire plan for the remainder of my time here.  However short (!).  This should be fun!  I can tell him all about the big plans I have!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Post Thanksgiving Rush

Dear Diary,

Thanksgiving just ended.  I had a lot to eat and didn't do much work (don't tell Kieron!).  It was good for my focus to take a short break.

Professor Burke has become my enabler, sort of, by continuing to hook me up with great projects. Namely, I have to run some data for Li.  I started running the necessary components on the computing cluster but messed up a small file issue, so I fixed that today and will send it soon (it doesn't take very long to run on the cluster).

The catch is that I have to arrange this so it's single blind.  Li can't know the whole data set, and I need to feed it to him piece meal.  It should be exciting!  I'll keep you posted!

Before the end of the calendar year (i.e. winter vacation), I'm going to try and work fast to get a few pesky tasks completed.  I should get to it...