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Goodness me, I’ve run out of school.

Here’s a picture of me during my PhD defense (thanks Andrea!)

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…and here’s the after-party.  Everything went smoothly and only took 2 hours, but I was exhausted.

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Pretty neat that my parents came out for the talk!  I agree with them: all that pomp and circumstance is for losers.  It’s way more fun to watch your kids sweat!  Us family types had a very nice dinner at Brad’s swingside cafe followed by beer and pool with some of my buddies at the usual place.  Good times.
Ummm…what else..I got the official job offer (i.e. salary) today, so I may not have to use the job hunt tag much longer.   Oh yeah, and I got a neat new phone.  One of those mp3 ones…and it has this ridiculous function where you can hum a tune into it and it will translate the tune into a score and save it as a midi file.  Thanks to everyone who came to my talk–or who would’ve if they didn’t have a talk of their own–or who forgot by accident–or who e-mailed from far away places–or who didn’t know about it, but would’ve (really!) if they had–or who flew all the way from Minnesota just to see it–or who came, even though they’re not in the physics program, just to be supportive–you were a helluva an audience.

I know what Adam’s getting for his birthday…

(blatantly stolen from metafilter)

…in other news, it appears I have an unofficial job offer from Argonne! Time to start coasting! (just kidding, Jerry)

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I think spring is my favorite season in Seattle. Despite being gray 90% of the time, there are so many blossoming trees and daffodils opening up this time of year. I’ve always been fond of the buds and leaves that make trees look sort of translucent this time of year too. I dropped by cherry tree mall today on the way back from the ima and it was pretty spectacular. Lots of people taking pictures for such a rainy, gray day.

Things here are going ok. This week was a little slow after two weeks away on job interviews and conferences…it can be tough to get back into the grind, but the end is near…I also got an invite to ESRF! That’s the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and it’s nestled in Grenoble with the Alps near by. (it’s not the LHC at CERN–so quit asking!) Pretty neat–but I don’t know if I’ll be on the market on April 23 when I’ve been asked to give a talk. I’m also intimidated by the sizable trip back and forth. On vera…

crumpets.JPGNew topic: popovers! Walking home, I was wondering what I was going to make for dinner..and I realized taht popovers are always a good last-ditch option. Never had a popover? They’re pretty yummy: it’s like a savory little souffle thingy, but a lot easier to make. There a lot of recipes online, but it’s basically one part milk to one part flour with two eggs per cup of milk. Season how you wish (at least salt), wisk it up a bit, and pour it in a hot muffin tin in a 450 degree oven for twenty minutes, before turning it down to 375 for 15-20 minutes longer. I stuck some dubliner cheddar and rosemary in it–which was ok, but I think Andrea’s suggestion of green onions would’ve been better. These don’t keep very well, but that’s almost never an issue.

I had my Brookhaven job interview this week and I think it went pretty well. My talk went smoothly and John (the guy who invited me) seemed to like it. I was a little surprised how everyone was working on strongly correlated materials, stripe order, magnetic order, orbital order…but I guess that’s the kind of group thinking that DOE likes in its labs. We ate at a tres swanky restaurant and I got a nice rental car for the trip..so everything was going smoothly until my flight got canceled today due to a lot of sleet. Fortunately my Aunt Toni and Uncle Mike live out here so I got a place to stay until Sunday when I fly back. Well, ’nuff blabbering–here’s some pictures from an eventful week.

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Here’s me and my old UofM buddy Jesse Berezovsky at Denver’s March meeting posing in front of the big blue bear (see last post).

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Despite having the flu, I then went to Stevens with Josh, Susan, David, Andrea, and Evee. Here’s Evee and Andrea goofing around.

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..and here is poor sick me, working on my talk while everyone is snowboarding and having fun..

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Aunt Toni and Uncle Mike are laughing at YOU!

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I thought before I’d get on my plane (yeah, right), that I’d hit some ethnic neighborhood in NYC for some neat grub. I decided on the Korean part of Queens on Northern Blvd in Flushing and got this lamb soup that was quite medicinal. Both the lamb and the mustard seeds were quite unusual to me, but it was good.

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This place only served a few dishes, mostly soup. I loved how they had all their bowls stacked up in front of the kitchen–neat place!

bluebear.JPGMy apologies for the lack of posting–this conference has been a whirlwind. (and thanks andrea for keeping everyone up to date!) I gave the first of my three talks today. It went pretty well, but I tend to run out of breath at the end of my sentences. It’s like I need a lamas class for giving talks to cope with the pressure. Denver’s an okay city, but it’s dominated by these trendy fast-food restaurants in the chipotle model. Our hotel…is far away, which kind of sucks since I would kill for a quick siesta right now. Random notes: The blue bear shown on the right is this 45 ft public art thingy peering in the convention center. Ran into former classmate, Jesse Berezovsky, who is skipping the afternoon sessions for a local brewery tour (so jealous). Alas, I will not be attending the physics sing along tonight. That would’ve been pretty entertaining.

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Things are really getting squeezed right now…I had another phone chat/interview today, this time with John Hill at Brookhaven. He invited me out to give a talk and there’s a good chance that he’ll offer me a job. I’ve only heard good things about John, so I’m pretty excited to talk to him. Plus it would be strategically nice to be working for a guy deeply involved in NSLS II, which looks like it will be pretty amazing when it opens in 2014. That said, I just have to get a 50 minute job talk and 3 March meeting talks together in the next two weeks, while making steady progress on my dissertation. I will be quite the toastmaster general by then. Btw, that picture that’s now the header for the webpage was when I tried to catch Lester in the act of jumping on my shoulders, which he does all the time. I hope you will enjoy looking up my nose.

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.

I have been a little distracted lately. I didn’t get that illustrious fellowship I applied for a while ago…so, it’s on to plan b–flood the x-ray community with cover letters and vitae. Jerry was waxing about how wonderful it is to have “a lever” at this point in your career, where you can choose what you want to do and where to go…I honestly just want a regular old job that’s not in the middle of nowhere.

I’ve begun to second-guess what I always thought a job should entail. One of my old U of M buddies once described his work after chemical engineering as means for providing for his hobbies. At the time, I internally scoffed at such a dreary-sounding future, but it sort of makes sense sometimes. “Real” physicists have a reputation for living in their labs, and while I respect that image, I just feel it’s not me. Although I often feel like I should if I want to be “successful.”

Speaking of worrying, Lester’s got it bad lately. After a bit of research, his symptoms fit perfectly with feline psyogenic alopecia. This was exacerbated by the fleas earlier, but he’s on advantage now and I haven’t seen or felt fleas in weeks. If it is what I think it is, the root cause is, regrettably, Echo. Or maybe it’s just ptsd from Smudge terrorizing him earlier. In any case, he’s been looking pretty threadbare ever since the other cat’s been around. Hopefully it will go away when Kate returns from Shung-hai. (that’s how she pronounces it at least)

I was sort of busy last week so I didn’t bother to post much of anything. I was applying for a job for the first time, and I kind of put the research plan off too long. It’s a little embarrassing, but I don’t have a clear idea what I want to do (still). Here’s my thought process during that ordeal.

8 am: I want to learn something completely new! ..but what?
8:01 am: Maybe something in..um… biology! Yeah, biology’s hot, right now. Can’t get a physics faculty position unless your nano-this or bio-that… so, I got 12 hours to learn about a problem in biology and figure out how to solve it with physics! Let’s go!
8:01 pm: Ok, this sucks. Apparently bacteria are more complicated than you’d think…waaaay too many atoms. Hmm…I guess I’ll just stick with x-rays. Maybe something closer to CM…something nano..or photonics–yeah, let’s try that.
10:30 pm: Huh, photonics experiments work better with optics than x-rays..who’d-a-thunk-it? Well, lasers are for sissies…how ’bout them electrons? Collective excitations are sort of lukewarm-hot–how about plasmons? Yeah, plasmonics! They’re using that in photonics with surface plasmons and shit!
12:30 am: ..and they’re still easier to look at with lasers or worse, EELS. Maybe…how about q-dependent x-ray Raman scattering? That’s like tepid-hot.. (I then give up and write a research plan pitching a pressure induced electron delocaliztion in lanthanides, measuring dispersion relations in surface plasmons, and nuclear resonance scattering measurements of hemoglobin dynamics. Yee haw.)

Ok, it wasn’t really that bad and apologies for the whole ‘physics-is-everything’ snobbishness that goes with the profession. I did learn a lot too..it’s just that you begin to realize how little you know. Yeesh.

In other news, Andrea got a cool RA for the year and I got me this family-sized leg of lamb at Costco. Also, I’m thinking of doing the Thanksgiving party again this year…what else? Oh yeah, and this paper got accepted in just a couple weeks. The reviewer said that mankind would benefit tremendously from it, that web of science would have to prepare its servers for the massive onslaught of citations that it would surely bring, that this will now set the new standard for what it sounds like..when doves cry (or something to that effect).