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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.

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.

spices.jpgI got me an awesome setup for my spices, which you can see on the right.  I’ve never been good at maintaining my spices.  I remember going on a multi-night trip to glacier with Dan Johnson and company and I brought like a cleaned-out painting set with 15 spices in my pack.  Yes, that was overkill. (as was the marmalade that inevitably broke and coated everything else)  Presently I probably have 50 or 60 random containers in my cupboard of everything from gumbo file to toasted rice powder.  Unfortunately, the new holder only has 40 test tubes, so I’ll probably have to chuck those old curry leaves I bought in Milwaukee years ago (probably taste like sawdust now) and start cutting down on the number of chile powders I’ve accumulated. <sigh>

Also, I’ve been halfway watching the new american iron chef series while writing about nothing here.  Jaysus, I hate Bobby Flay.  (Apparently, I’m not the only one)  His food is more predictable than a trip to KFC.  I wish Batali was cooking.  Ming Tsai should whoop him…but we’ll see.  (I have to get rid of my cable–it’s killing me to watch as much tv as G)

by Guest Writer Andrea
Lo, the Continental Divide stands between my Motee and I tonight.  For the next 730 days, Motee and I will be drawn apart by science.  Who knew that science would have such dramatic consequences for me?  I thought freshman bio was the last that science would torture me.  Oh no no, I was so mistaken. 

I think I’ll be seeing a lot of the Chicago-Midway airport in the coming months.  Rest assured, gentle readers, Our Hero is safe and comfortable in his apartment, even if his shopping options within walking distance are limited to liquor stores, carnecerias, and check cashing joints.  Oh yeah, and that “I got 99 problems — 4 shizzle” store.  Go see it for yourself!  You can’t make this stuff up. 

(Update! Hot tipper Ahob managed to locate Noah’s stash of pictures that includes a video!  The ducklings were clearly what one them the grand prize.)

…they make sculptures out of trash.


Congrats to Noah, Subu, Andy, Beth, and the other physics grads students who won the Grand Showboat prize for their milk-carton entry “Duck Amuck” at Seafair this year! Claire Lu took some interesting pictures for it. According to Andy, they accumulated over 1200 milk cartons from the h-bar (ahuk) to build it. I was hoping my predilection for white-chocolate mochas helped their cause!!!

(ok, I was just trying to score one of their tickets that they won. In reality, I think white chocolate mochas are the most soul-sucking, utter-waste-of-four dollar, gutbusting drinks on the planet that are kept in business by people who pretend to like coffee. Real connoisseurs go to the physics machine shop for a 25 cent cuppajoe where you get exactly what you pay for: cheap drip coffee)

Well, assuming that 41% of the country of are complete-fucking-airheads, we only have to get 85% of the remaining electorate to win the popular vote in ’08.

Oh wait, that number’s rising. 



lestersdinner.jpgMan, have I got a dog of cold! Fortunately, my stomach’s fine..which allowed me to whip up some sushi for the first time in ages. As this silly person pointed out, my rolling technique is a little rusty (the cucumber/avocado/garlic chive mixture is not centered), but the fish made up for it. I went with my two favorites: salmon and bluefin [chu]-toro (which was worth it at $40/lb!). And check out my suh-weet new teapot, made by these guys natch. Lester got some of the sashimi; he lapped it up so quickly that it was impossible to get a crisp picture of him.

We’ve been watching some basketball, and Phoenix is just getting jobbed by the refs and the underhanded defense of the spurs. Looks like this guy got it right (and then got punished by the refs for shooting off his mouth). They really gotta rework the impact that refs have on the nba–it’s turning into soccer.

Another computer ailment has befallen our protagonist. This time, it appears to have happened beyond his general incompetence. The nubby part that connects the power cord to his laptop has broken, again shutting out our Timothy from the internets. Will he be reconnected? Will he write witty things for us again? The first is likely in the next week or so.

In the meantime, let me occupy you with a picture: The Polite Lester


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…

…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.