2007 Epsilon Exploits & Familial Foibles

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28 Jan 2007
Zara's verbosity continues to increase. She is a very opinionated little girl and not at all shy about expressing herself. Volume, it seems, has become one of her most powerful weapons in attaining what she wants. Miiiiiiine! Miiiiiiiine! Miiiiiiiiiiine! is often her refrain when Maxwell has taken some item she desires like a cookie or light saber. It is inconsequential whether or not this item was recently in her possession, only that she currently desires it. She is also growing like a weed, which doesn't bode well for Maxwell who has aquired his father's youthful shrimpiness.
Nevertheless, he still retains the upper hand in their disagreements. Maxwell has found that curling up in a little ball on the floor is the best way to keep Zara from acquiring the item in his possession which she has claimed. Socking her is more effective, but he has found this leads to certain reprecussions with the arbiters of their disputes. Zara did it, Maxwell has also discovered, is a great defense against any and all charges brought against him. This often leads to no conviction, however, because Zara is an unreliable witness who would confess to the assasination of president Kennedy if we asked her. That he uses this defense at all is the fault of the Simpson's episode "Lisa's First Word" in which we find young Bart in his imagination successfully framing his baby sister Lisa for his misdeeds. You could see the lightbulb go off in his head as he watched it, and he attempted to apply that newfound knowledge shortly after.

25 Jan 2007

This weekend I'm doing my first shifts as BaBar's pilot - that is, the shift leader in charge of keeping the detector running. This somewhat anticlimatic however, because our accelerator is having a rough time starting up after the extended down period. We were supposed to have beams around Jan 5th, and we're still waiting . . .

This cloud does have a silver lining though, in that if everything goes according to plan (it hasn't yet) we'll get colliding beams when I'm on shift. Of course, with the LHC planning to turn on later this year many in high energy physics are shifting their focus there. There are still plans to run BaBar through 2008, but the Democrats in congress could change that tomorrow. For my part I am reaching my two year attention span for subjects with BaBar. Apparently this is normal for PhD students, but I never been particularly good at controlling my intellectual whims.

24 Jan 2007

This was just way too cool - I had to share. It illustrates the chaos of the three body problem pretty well I think. Dave Harrison at U. Toronto has a whole bunch of these physics flash animations which he has made, but this one is my favorite.

23 Jan 2007

Well, it seems that the newly elected Democrats have gotten the BaBar elephant confused with the GOP mascot and frozen funding for the DOE. Kidding aside I must nevertheless present an annual review of my work which justifies funding. My advisor felt the video version was a little too "unprofessional" however, so I just presented the slides over the phone. Perhaps I am taking this YouTube thing a bit to far, but impossible is nothing.

17 Jan 2007

Maxwell's obsession with Transformers has led him to develop a "robot voice", basically a monotone version of his own voice. Hello. I am a robot. See Mom, I talk like a robot! I want hotdog.

15 Jan 2007

One discovers many funny things on YouTube. Check out baratsandbereta.com - reminds me of the videos we used make back in High School. If only there'd been YouTube then . . .

. . . but a trip to Fry's and $10 later I'm converting my old tapes digital formats. Watch my YouTube page for more details.

14 Jan 2007

Yesterday was Shreelekha's birthday party at De Anza Park . . .

Shreelekha gets the first bite of birthday cake.

Our friends Leena & Sharad

Cara & Zara enjoying pizza.

Poor Maxwell could have neither cake nor pizza which made him very depressed. He and I left early to go home for a hot dog and an airhead, which perked him right back up. It's tough being a little boy with allergies. In the afternoon we took Dell & Kristen up to Pichetti for some winetasting. After tasting Dell was excited about their new tasting room Pichetti is opening at Lake Tahoe.

12 Jan 2007

Dell and Kristen are down for the weekend, and tonight the girls had a knittingfest:

11 Jan 2007

Tonight Maxwell decided he wanted to paint . . . with toothpaste. Naturally, the best place to get away with this is on the wall and nearby toys in the corner of your bedroom. And if you get so into it that you have an accident in your pants, by all means hide in the closet and keep on painting. Of course, your younger sister may get involved but beware, for she is liable to wander out to the parents with toothpaste on her hands and in her hair, which may alert them to your artistic activities.

10 Jan 2007

Jaime just put a whole bunch of pictures from our Christmas in Tahoe up on Shutterfly. Shutterfly makes ordering prints easy, but getting copies of the JPEGs a pain in the you-know-what. Embedded in their filenames is a six digit hexadecimal number signifying an individual picture in the album chosen in a non-trivial way (for example, 47b7df28b3127cce98548ec8ee4300000017100IZOXLJs3YsU.jpg with ec8ee43, ec96f72, eb6ee3d, eb76f0c, eb4ee3f, eb56f0e, eb2ee39, etc. ). This obfuscation precluded the writing of a simple script to quickly download all the pictures from their server and irritated me. So I studied the pattern for a few minutes and deduced the rules:

e becomes f when the second digit reaches 7.
16 repeats countdown.
repeating length 16 sequence 67452301efcdab89.
when first is e, e then 6; when first is f, a then 2.
e then f.
repeating length 16 sequence dcfe98ba54761032.

Finding the directory in which the files are hidden proved to be somewhat more difficult. Unlike other companies with similar business models (c.f. Brightroom), Shutterfly has does a good job of hiding its data so you have to buy prints through them. I gave up after a few hours and just copied the 400X600 files one by one directly.

9 Jan 2007

Riding in the car for three days straight can lead someone to become a little slap happy. Just look what happened to Alora last month:

7 Jan 2007

There is one number that I have been tracking since I started journaling back in High School, books read:

Actually, one can derive quite a bit of personal information out of this graph. The dip during 1999 and 2000 represents my first two years at GA Tech, when I wasfirst delving deeply in difficult mathematics, reading man pages to learn programming, teaching several classes, waiting tables, etc. I guess by 2001 I had adapted. Then the extreme spike in 2003 represents my intensive study of the Goths and the late Roman Empire. I was intending to write a book on the subject, but I only got about 50 pages or so into it before my rekindled interest in physics distracted me away. These past 3 years in grad school there haven't been many books to read - most of the information I've been absorbing hasn't made it that far yet, instead I read endless numbers of journal articles. I thought about recording this number as well, but got mired in properly defining what constituted an article: peer-reviewed? length? etc.

The girls have no doubt surpassed my figures most the most recent years however. They average about a book a week judging from what they've got in their hands when I tuck them in at night. Alora is especially voracious in her consumption of literature, often retreating to her bed during the day when she's particularly sucked into a book. This morning she awoke us to inform us that she needed to get Eldest, the sequel to Eragon, which she had just finished. Brittan, on the other hand, is more willing to sample disparate writings and has no problem leaving them unfinished if they grow uninteresting. I, however, do not possess such discipline and have a pile of "current readings", some of which date back to my GA Tech days, to prove it.

6 Jan 2007

This year I'm adding a New! page of thumbnails to make searching for pictures from the blog easier. You'll find the picture below from today is the first on the page...

The princesses of Genovia enjoying jumping on the bed.

Jan 5, 2007

Well, apparently the USPS can decide to hold your mail when ever it likes - in our case, it was just holding some of it. We only discovered this when Cara called our local post office today to file a missing mail complaint. How ridiculous is that? Apparently the USPS now even has the right to search your mail without a warrent. Can you imagine what the world would be like if they had control over our email, too?


Usually I try to keep my comments about the government, which are usually polemic, confined to my political blog, but today another event occurred wherein the federal government affects my personal life. My work at SLAC is funded by the DOE, and it seems the Republican gravy train for that branch of government has come to an end with the swearing in of Nancy Pelosi. The DOE will get no funding increase this year. There is a maximum in government science funding: The republicans like to blow stuph up, and the Democrats like to show people they care. Guess which science funding agency will be seeing increased funding? Without planned funding increases, the DOE will be making some cutbacks . . . which probably won't include BaBar, but instead kill research on the future ILC. I can't help but chuckle at my now downtrodden colleagues who were so excited about Speaker-Elect Nancy Pelosi just a few months ago. Don't they remember the last Democratic congress killed the SSC thirteen years ago, starting us down the road to the end of accelerator High Energy Physics in the US which is now only 2-3 years away?

4 Jan 2007

Maxwell has really been into Transformers lately. Okay, so the ones I got him for Christmas required a little more patience and manual dexterity than he can currently immediately wield, but which a little help he has been able to enjoy them. More importantly for our sanity, however, we have finally found a show to supplant Bob the Builder as Maxwell's first choice for viewing. It's fun to watch your kids get excited about the same stuph that once interested you.

2 Jan 2007

In terms of government monopolies, the postal service has probably been with us the longest - since the ratification of our constitution almost. As such, like roads, schools, and the police we see it as a rather natural, benign monopoly. Until now, I have always accepted the postal monopoly because I have lived places where it has generally done a good job. Returning home from this trip, however, we have found most of our mail has gone missing. No bills for the month of december and very few Christmas cards. While one might attribute the precipitous decline in Christmas cards to the fact that we 1) moved and 2) saw most of the family over Christmas, the selective removal of all the bills from our mail bespeaks nefarious motives. Clearly, the postal service is a company that I cannot trust to properly handle my mail, even if the bills were all just lost through incompetence. But what choice do I have? I cannot hire UPS to pick up and deliver my everyday letters. Ten years ago I would be trapped, but today the beautifully unregulated internet provides another choice for receiving and paying bills. Ironically, I have always thought of it as less secure than the US postal service . . .

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Last ∆ on 28 Jan 2007 by Bradley James Wogsland.
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