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Apparently Chicago is prone to hurricanes. First Gustav and then Ike, with a vengeance. With all the flooded roads between here and Argonne it took at least an hour each way in the car. I guess I’ll bike again tomorrow since that’s a shorter-feeling 90 minutes. The one downside: the stench of mildew and sewage at certain points along the way.

In other news…not much going on! Postdoc is humming along well I guess and I’m still cooking a lot. Although I’m dreading the demise of the farmer’s market in October. Andrea is spending about 14 hours a day on her sewing machine, so I guess that was a good b-day present on my part. Honestly, I haven’t felt much urge to update this l’il website since she’s been out here, but I’ll try to once in a while.

Here are some pictures I found on the camera…explanations below.

(working across) nanoprobe, taken downstream; my peach b-day cake; new, nappable couch with our heroes; new, nappable couch with Andrea and Nubia (not exactly chopped liver); Andrea’s homemade beer cozies (get yours now!); a flock of Fisters; four pictures from a fancy dinner I made (local cheeses from down the street, beet salad, corn flan, scallops and roasted cipollini, shrimp with toasted cumin, ricotta/marscapone/lemoncurd/berry tart); Lester and his new, homemade cat toy; a bunch of tomatoes prior to getting sauced.


People who visit the Advanced Photon Source never seem to remember what a synchrotron actually does, or the definition of brilliance, or the difference between a wiggler and an undulator. No, what they remember are the trikes–which is the mode of transportation around experiment hall. Toward the end of our recent 3 week run, I got a little bored and tried to survey the different tricycles.

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Left: this is the tricycle for sector 12 (BESSRC-CAT) where I work. Unlike most trikes, it’s a three-speed. Middle: two colorful trikes at GSE-CARS, our neighbor at sector 13. I like the simplicity of the red ‘mover’ trike. Right: A nice, classic blue number that reminds me of an old-fashioned schwinn.

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Left: a nice pink recombinant with a homemade sled-style crate and a gnarly horn. I wanted to try it out, but the last time I did this some woman chased after me. Middle: detail of a common, yet elegant, style around the ring. This an older generation of trike, so I’m a little partial I guess. Right: the infamous PNC trike. I love this thing, which is so much more out of the closet than Robert.

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Far left: different view of PNC-1. Mid-left: Interesting shop trikes that look a little like rickshaws. Mid-right: for some reason, this is my favorite one. Far-right: This trike looked lonely.

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Left: The only white rims in the building. Middle: Trike with an interesting front rack that’s integrated into the handlebars (incidentally parked in a forbidden red area). I wanted to try this one out too. Right: The parking situation near the APS shop is always tight, even at 4 in the morning when I took these photos.

diff1.jpgJust finished another experiment with some good and some annoying results.  We came in to get some new data to help complete a couple of studies and I don’t think we did that.  Fortunately, we’re running again in a month and with the amount of data I still have to analyze, that’s not a huge loss.  For those curious, here’s a photo of a LSMO sample being heated to 950 C in an oxygen-rich atmosphere in this specially built chamber mounted on the Huber in 12ID-B.  Alas, the tantalum clips holding the sample down were oxidizing like crazy, screwing up our experiment.  I think we may have some neat ideas for the next run to explain what’s going on at the surface of these samples (and we’ll use some ceramic clips–sheesh!).


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. 

Well, Andrea came and went in three short days. We had a really good time, but it made me long for my old life in Seattle again. I guess I don’t have much else to say about that…

Beamrun’s a coming and so are my parents. I figured I wouldn’t have time to go to a toy store for Charlotte’s 4th birthday, so I picked up something online. Looks pretty hug-able (mine was brown and cheaper for some reason)

Cool synchrotron pictures here!

Also, Dave and Kate are dropping by for dinner before heading back to Mankato. Yay!

…and by satisfying, I mean looong!

Well, it’s 2am and it’s my last night here! We learned a lot this trip and bumped into some really nice science, which probably means we have a ways to go in understanding the best way to measure x-ray Raman scattering, but I still think we’re ahead of most everyone else (although welcome new XRS beamlines at the Canadian source, ESRF, and possibly diamond will probably will erase that gap). Yesterday was a day off, so me and Henning Sternemann (visiting student from Dortmund, which is the sister city of Buffalo apparently) went downtown and looked at art for four hours since it was the art institute‘s free day. That place is amazing–whole rooms of Cezanne, Miro, Goya, Turner, Hopper, you name it. The only part that makes me scratch my head is the exhibits of furniture from the last fifty years. I don’t understand the appeal of 50’s garage sale bargains, but I guess certain people think that ‘design’ falls in the same realm as art, maybe even . (others are beginning to have misgivings) …um, where was I? Oh yeah–and then we met up with Yejun and Erin (Seidler lab survivors) and had some dinner at some pub that turned out to be a chain. The highlight of this entire trip was while we were waiting for Yejun and his wife at a bar in Chicago’s union station and Jerry challenged me to a game of pool. Praise be jebus, I won! So, as I said, good trip. Ok, this script is done and I have to script up one last sample before getting up at 8-freakin-am to put in a chunk of boron I promised Hadley I’d measure.

In day 12 of the beamrun and counting…last week was a scramble with the interviews, applications, and a talk. Today, nothing…just watching scans go by as more data begins to pile up. It’s good data–don’t get me wrong–I just have a case of the blahs or something. Anyways….here’s some pictures I took when I sat in on an STM experiment with UW alum, Michael Pierce:


The whole thing’s only 5 months old and a mere $2mil, so yes, it is a little intimidating to mess with it…


Here’s the inside of the STM. The STM tip reaches up from the lobed gold part and makes contact with our sample, which is suspended from that plate above it. We were looking at atomic scale gold surface reconstruction.


…this is a LEED (low energy electron diffraction) image of a titanium oxide surface structure…but you probably knew that just by looking at the pattern.

Well, things here are going at about their normal pace…slowly. The first couple days of setup are always hellish, but we’ll get through it. Julie, the APS staff-person who works on our experiment, does a ton of work during this time, so mad props to her. Word has it that Julie is about to be offered a promotion to some paperworky 9-5 job here and that she’s thrilled about it. I am really happy for her since I know this job can get very stressful, no thanks to folks like us. On the job-search front–lots of people are actually interested in me! I’ve had folks e-mail saying they heard from so-and-so, who heard from so-and-so that I was looking for a job…and I didn’t know any of them. Just goes to show that if you spam enough people with your resume (especially the higher-up folks), that eventually everyone has a copy. No definite offers yet, but lots of encouraging discussions and e-mails being sent around. I’m starting to feel a little more optimistic. (especially since DOE is now getting a bump from its continuing resolution funding…or so I’ve heard…) Ok, back to work. Hopefully the beast will be tuned up tomorrow sometime.

Last year, the Advanced Photon Source (where I do my experiments) was promised to get a large bump in funding after years of stagnation. Unfortunately, congress never actually passed that budget. This is delaying Andrea’s GAO job indefinitely and is making it rather difficult to find a national lab job right now. My beamtime even got cut back. This article in the New York Times really does not paint an optimistic picture about the next round of funding. Ugh.