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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?


Who knows when our hero will remember this humble little blog!  He’s been occupied with designing a chamber for a mid-winter beam run, working on a book chapter, and fleshing out some explanations for out-of-phase crystalline film behaviors.  And he thinks I don’t listen.  In the meantime, our little household is chugging along!  This past Saturday, we had separate but equally important causes to tend: Tim’s, to ensure that we would eat delicious vegetables through the winter, and mine, to do what I could to help Barack and Michelle move their lil munchkins into the White House.

Clockwise: Some homemade tomato sauce, baked Hubbard squash (the farmers recommended dropping the squash from a balcony to open it), and blanched corn stripped from the cob.  The end result will be more photogenic, but having reserves is endlessly reassuring.  Bread-n-butter pickles!

Next: A standing-room-only crowd of volunteers at Illinois’ 7th District Democratic Headquarters; a man giving a spontaneous speech about how we are realizing MLK’s vision of judging a man by the content of his character; chaotically and democratically splitting up into cars for the 2.5 hr ride to Michigan; the Kalamazoo Democratic Headquarters.  My group spent half the day registering voters in a subsidized housing development and the other half talking to undecideds about where they stand and what would convince them.  We were only five people, but beyond the actual contacts we made, the presence of volunteers for a candidate is sometimes a strong message alone.  Or so I hope.

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.

T.T. Fister et al‘s paper on excited state hybridization in closo-dicarba-dodecaboranes has been accepted to the Journal of the American Chemical Society–a journal that my mother has even heard of! Yippee!


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. 

Thought I’d squeeze a post in before I turn the wonderfully symmetric 3^3^3.  Things here are a little nuts–I’m trying to finish this class up and several papers while coordinating a move to Chicago.  I’ve narrowed down my choices and I’m targeting this neighborhood that is barely close enough to my new job (ok I’ll be working here and a little here too) while being somewhat urban.  In two weeks I’m flying out to quickly grab an apartment using a free referral service there.  They assure me there are tons of nice vintage apartments that are within my price range..we’ll see.  In between is a trip to Canada to see Andrea’s sister and nephews and a secret mystery trip for Andrea’s less symmetric 30th birthday. (well, I guess you could do something like 7+4*4+7, which is symmetric, but clunky)

Ok, I have to go put the final touches on my stat mech midterm.  On a related note, my students voted on a take home final–I told them that it would be harder and ultimately more work, but they still went that route.  (I guess they figure they can find the answers on wikipedia…)  If you have any devious problems that I should put on it, lemme know! (and don’t post them on wikipedia)

Goodness me, I’ve run out of school.

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


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


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.

Ok, it’s been a while, but in my defense, my defense is in ❤ weeks (no, that’s not a heart, or butt-cone or whatever…) and I’ve been back and forth between Argonne for job interviews and a recent conference. I did manage to pop a couple a pictures along the way…


This is a photo of the two-crystal monochromator APS’ new microprobe beamline. Since the beam is being focused to ~10 nm across, any jiggle can be pretty detrimental–hence this mono has crystals only 5 mm apart, with a flexure coupling to really cut down on any extraneous motion.


Here’s a picture of an open-faced duck sandwich with caramelized onions, tomatoes and goat cheese with a side of wilted beet greens and zucchini. I made three sandwiches for my lunch ‘bunch’.


Here’s Julie in her new office pretending like she owns the ring. She’s now in charge of safety protocol for any new equipment being installed at APS, which has much better hours (and pay) than a beamline scientist. Good thing ‘the beast’ was built before she started..that thing’s a deathtrap.


As you might recall, the main mode of transportation inside the ring are trikes. Someone (Ken) must’ve gone off the deep end with this one. Yikes.


note.jpg Here’s me with my poster at the Argonne user’s meeting. Somehow, they managed to lose my abstract, so I wasn’t included in the handouts and I didn’t have an assigned spot at the poster session. I made do, I guess.

…that it’s John Cramer.  Make that distinguished author, John Cramer.  The same guy who made waves with a couple lines in Mathematica.  With his own freakin’ wikipedia entry.  Ok, guy can think big I guess.


I’ve been writing my dissertation lately, and for the most part it’s going pretty well…but I can drive myself crazy deciding how broad a discussion to take when describing a very narrow subject area.

For instance I’ve been brushing up on all my old x-ray optics papers.  I’ve decided to spend the most time on how energy-selective optics work, focusing on dynamical diffraction and the Rowland circle.  I worked out the Darwin width for a perfect crystal with and without dispersion corrections.  Still, who the hell knows what a Darwin width is…so I decided to back up and talk about where Bragg diffraction actually comes from.   I thought it would be nice to do it in terms of form factors to explain dispersion corrections later, so I decided to do it in reciprocal know with a form factor for a collection of atoms on a lattice.

But then I thought, what if you want to know what the individual form factor is for an atom?  …and for that matter for an individual electron.  Which meant that I was all the way back to classical Thomson radiation, where the electric field of the x-ray induces the electron to wiggle back and forth, causing dipole radiation.  But wait–why does an electron radiate when it accelerates?

While I believe that there’s value in ‘seeing the forest among the trees’ as Jerry quips all the time, I think I’m starting taking it way too far…