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As requested, here are a few photos from my 3 [!] plots that I’m working on at Argonne. Everything this year was grown from seeds that I bought from this place.

First up: I grew a bunch of sugar snap peas this spring. Here they are about a yard tall in mid-May., but they eventually got well over six feet tall in June before going to seed. I’ll definitely be planting a lot more of them for a fall harvest. The beets and lettuce (leopard oak shown) were also happy with our extended, wet spring. (The lettuce has since gone feral, growing long stalks like a milkweed)
snappeas beets_and_lettuce

I planted a bunch of napa cabbages for kimchee-making. (I just sowed another row in my new plot) I like how they just squeeze together.


My peppers and eggplant have been slow-going, waiting for the hot weather to show up, but they’re growing pretty quickly now. I just noticed some flowers on them for the first time today too.

eggplants peppers

I devoted much of one plot for tomatoes. In May, they looked so scrawny compared to other people’s greenhouse plants. Now, they’re out of control.

may_tomatoes july_tomatoes

Last year, after dabbling with a bunch of different types of ‘maters, I decided to focus on three varieties: sungolds [cherry tomatoes], sweetheart [grape toamtoes], and striped romas. While most of the tomatoes are still flowers, there are a lot of little green guys out there now. Check them out:

sungolds sweethearts striped_romas

Since my peas were long gone, I tore out their trellis and strung up my longer-than-expected cucumbers. The bees have been all over these guys.

cuke_trellis2 cukes2

I recently got a third plot, already double-dug, from Julie Cross. She also gave me some Italian swiss chard seeds. It’s early, but I like this cute little plot.


After all this, I got hungry so I took some of that wild summer lettuce and tamed it into a beef salad with a Vietnamese-y dressing.


And since there are no x-rays tonight, I think I’m going to make some vanilla ice cream to go with some berries from the market. (Yes, I finally got an ice cream maker!)



I have been learning how to fabricate and characterize small electrodes on our thin film samples over the past couple of weeks. Here is an SEM picture from my latest effort on a bare YSZ substrate. Without any additional information, can you guess what I’ve imaged above?

Whew. I’m finally done with beamruns for a little while. I signed on to four different experiments, with about a week of x-rays apiece, which essentially erased my July. And now the book chapter’s deadline is looming, there are papers to write, and we’re moving…so I had to mess around in the garden this morning to decompress a little. At this point, I’m kind of giving up the battle with the weeds and am just trying to keep things from falling over. The beans and tomatoes are definitely trying to escape their stakes, cages, and trellises. I only had string on me today, so part of the garden now looks like it’s barely held together. The building maintenance folks mowed the lawn between the plots over the weekend, sawing off parts of my cantaloupes that were trying to make friends with the watermelons in the next plot over. I was a little peeved, but then I realized that the people who did the mowing were the same ones who started these plots in the first place. That and I now have something like 10 melons going right now (I think five or six are in that picture).

Ok, now I gotta work on designs for our next environmental chamber. Here’s a sneak peak.

Found two melons in my cantaloupe orgy on Monday. Okra’s really doing well in the hot weather too now. Here are some more pictures if you interested.

Just finished experiment 2 of 4 yesterday–on to #3 (night shift this time–blegh!). Also got a new apartment–but more on that later…

As promised, here are my [over-exposed] garden pictures.

From the top:courtyard A in the chemistry building…our plot is the second one…the string beans that I planted last week are growing very quickly…the sungold tomato plant is huge and already producing….neat rows of peppers, herbs, and other vegetables…the zucchini have really taken off and are showing some small blossoms…Andrea’s rows of lettuce look pretty tasty already.

My first (of three) weeklong experiments starts on Wednesday. This is one that I’m in charge of since I was silly enough to write its proposal. Plus deadlines for 4-5 conferences and the next cycle of APS proposals is fast approaching. Being a worrywort, my mind has been darting around lot…so it’s wonderful that I have a ‘little’ 14×8 plot in a courtyard of the chemistry building at Argonne. It’s kind of a nice location since it’s sheltered from the throngs of wildlife at Argonne (it’s built on a nature preserve), gets tons of sun, and has access to a hose. This morning I spent over an hour in our burgeoning jungle, putting in the last plants and weeding like a mofo. It’s really peaceful to go in there really early and weed, and I love watching everything get bigger each visit. In case you’re wondering here’s what Andrea and I have planted:

  • Tomatoes: Sungold (cherry), amish paste, green zebra, big boy, sugarsweet (cherry), brandywine, Andrea’s mystery farmer’s market tomatoes
  • Peppers: Yellow bell, cayenne, pimento, habenero, marconi, chocolate beauty
  • Eggplant: Japanese, black beauty, white
  • Herbs: Thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, mint
  • Melons: superstar, cantaloupe, watermelon
  • Rest: Broccoli, okra, swiss chard, mixed lettuce, carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, cauliflower, pickling cucumbers

I’m really looking forward to digging into that produce, but it will likely all ripen over three wonderful days in August. I’ll try to take a picture of it tomorrow so you can see what all the fuss is about.

Sobering article on Argonne in business week’s Chicago supplement. (p. 38-39)

(although it’s a lot prettier here than that picture would make you think)

I recall Obama that threw out the idea of a Manhattan project for alternative energy in the last debate, but it seemed a little like a soundbite. In it’s day, the Manhattan project was so big that more money was spent funding it was larger than the entire US auto industry, so I’m really skeptical that taxpayers would be willing to front an initiative similar in scope. After watching last night’s fluffy Nova with Tom and Ray, I’m further convinced that $5/gal gas will given rise to a cultural shift (smaller cars with less horsepower, more hybrids, less traveling for goods) than increased governmental funding for BES that could lead to a more revolutionary change in transportation. That would certainly be a nice shift in public sentiment, but does seem as revolutionary as something like the New Deal. Still, that’s the thing I like about Obama: that he strikes me as someone who thinks about bigger solutions rather than the standard Democratic bandaid-science-funding, i.e. short cycle applicative grants. (fwiw, I’m extremely liberal).

Ok, I should be working on my research (loosely related to alternative energy, actually), rather than ranting about this stuff. I’ll put up some pictures of my bike ride to work later if they came out ok.


I finally got a picture of the deer on the campus at Argonne.  Yes, they’re white.


Last Friday I started working with Paul and Voya on experiments involving an electron microscope.  We tried some low energy ion scattering (LEIS) then and we’ll do a little x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) tomorrow.  Working with an electron microscope makes me glad that I ended up doing most of my work with x-rays where we can do thing in atmosphere and can live with a little shmutz on the surface.


…and lastly: I purchased a Jack Spade laptop bag this weekend–which was bit of a splurge–but I really like it.  I actually made the ridiculous argument in my head that I had to get it in February since I get paid each month.  Makes me feel grown up, yet trendy.  I’ve been carrying it from room to room this weekend since it’s too cold to walk anywhere outside. (40 below windchills–blegh!)

During our beamrun I helped out on a BES proposal for a large new facility at Argonne with labspace for a ~200 scientists and officespace for an additional ~200 staff people.  Based on a little pencil sketch provided by one of my collaborators, I made a 3D model that’s become its concept design.


cute, huh? there’s a large common area in the middle with three branches of labs coming out from the middle.  I doubt they’ll keep my garish red floors, but one can dream.  Apparently the higher-ups liked it and it got sent out.  I forgot about it until our division director mentioned it in a big meeting today.  It was kind of fun to be messing around in solidworks for the first time in a long while.


Our hero has been consumed by the monster that is the Beam, for a month-long adventure sure to produce lots of hard-won data.  Back in September, you can see that Tim and his old apparatus were quite friendly.  This time around, perhaps with no nametag clipped to his nipple, our hero finds himself using yet another apparatus for his sample-measuring pursuits. 

 This is all to say that Tim, our flaxen hero, may be a little scarce for the next month.