Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bad Floor Wax

As I mentioned a while ago, I'm currently visiting the Center for Computational Science and Engineering at UC Davis. They're located in the Mathematical Sciences Building, which is brand new. It just opened in December. I'm in a large, shared office, which is pretty nice except it doesn't have any windows.

However, the floor wax is pretty terrible. It doesn't stick to the floor. It's new linoleum, and perhaps this is the first time it's ever been waxed. As I roll in and out of my desk (which I need to do fairly often or else the lights go out), the wax flakes off in large pieces. It's not that bad, but somehow I've got it in my head that the wax looks like giant flakes of skin, which grosses me out. I probably read too much Stephen King as a child.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Berry Falls Hike

This Saturday my brother and I went on a hike to Berry Falls. A nice description of the hike and a bunch of photos is here. It was very, very cool. The falls were great and redwoods are amazing. We saw lots of slow-moving salamanders on the trails. I think they were California Newts. The coast range variety Taricha torosa torosa. Whatever the were they were fun. We also saw some California quail. All in all, a very nice day. The California coast is pretty amazing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Mechanical Contrivium: College of the Atlantic

As is too often the case, I'm blogging when I should be doing other work. In this case, I'm editing a paper that I've been in various stages of writing for three years. Yup. Three years. Anyway, I discovered The Mechanical Contrivium, a site that will automatically generate trivia about a person or a thing that you enter. It's a little bit like mad libs, but easier and a lot more fun.

I entered "college of the atlantic", and got the following:

Ten Top Trivia Tips about College of the Atlantic!

  1. The moon is 400 times closer to the Earth than College of the Atlantic, and 400 times smaller!

  2. If you lick College of the Atlantic ten times, you will consume one calorie.

  3. College of the Atlantic can usually be found in nests built in the webs of large spiders.

  4. College of the Atlantic is the smallest of Jupiter's many moons!

  5. During the reign of Peter the Great, any Russian nobleman who chose to wear College of the Atlantic had to pay a special College of the Atlantic tax!

  6. Without its lining of College of the Atlantic, your stomach would digest itself.

  7. 99 percent of the pumpkins sold in the US end up as College of the Atlantic.

  8. In a pinch, the skin from a shark can be used as College of the Atlantic!

  9. It's bad luck for a flag to touch College of the Atlantic.

  10. In Ancient Egypt, people wore glittery eyeshadow made from the crushed shells of College of the Atlantic.
I am interested in - do tell me about

Not bad. Item 9 is particularly accurate. Ok. Back to editing.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Energy Conservation Gone Awry

I'm currently visiting the center for Computational Science and Engineering at UC Davis for a few weeks. They are located in a new mathematical sciences building. The lights in the office I'm sharing are turned off and on automatically by a motion detector device. The idea, I suppose, is that the lights will turn off if nobody is around, thus conserving energy.

This makes a lot of sense for a hallway and maybe even a bathroom. If nobody's there, no need to have the lights on. However, this doesn't work in a room full of theoretical physicists. See, the harder I work, the less I move. When I'm getting work done, I barely move at all. So the lights keep going off. Every two minutes and thirty seconds. To get the lights to go back on I have to roll away from my desk a little bit so I'm not obscured by my desk partition and wave at the motion sensor. I suppose this is decent exercise. But it gets a little annoying. Fortunately, there's a small light on my desk. So when the main lights go out I'm not in total darkness. I've pretty much given up using the main lights and just use the desk light now.

Anyway, this isn't a major inconvenience. But one has to wonder: whose great idea was it to have lights operated by motion detectors in the offices of a math building?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Reviewing done

Just finished a referee report on a paper that I should have finished a long time ago. Yay for me.

Now that I'm done patting myself on the back, time to work on some of the other things I should have finished a long time ago.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Disturbing Wrapping Paper

So, I'm at my Mom's, and I just wrapped some Christmas presents. She has some really strange wrapping paper. The basic motif is a collection of round white and red swirled circular peppermint hard candy things. There are also white and green swirled candy things. Some of the peppermints are adorned with smiley faces licking their lips. The peppermints look quite psychedelic. The background is green. Also printed on the background at regular intervals is "Sweet & Sticky!" (Yes, with the exclamation point.)

Yikes. Yikes. Yikes. The entire effect is disturbing. It looks like it could form the basis of a psy-trance/hard house rave flyer. I've never done acid, but the paper sure looks like it was inspired by a bad trip. The smiley faces look quite maniacal. I could easily imagine that they would scare small children. And my Mom's got a lot of this stuff -- we'll be seeing it for years.

Anyway, I made sure to wrap my brother's present in the disturbing paper.

Sunday, January 01, 2006