Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It's that time of year again

Time for me to go hang out with 5000 other geeks. Yes, it's scientific meeting time. Time for bad talks, overwhelming numbers of people, too much coffee, beer and good science. This year it's in Baltimore. I'll also get to go to one of my all time favorite restaurants - the Helmand. Maybe more than once.

Sorry you won't be there DocStymie. You'll be missed. I'll have some Kaddo Borawni for you.

After Baltimore I have to spend a couple of days at a workshop at the National Science Foundation in Washington, DC. It'll be a long trip (for me) - Friday to Friday. I hate being away from the family that long. The meeting will be good, but not being with the lovely L and the kids will suck.

No word of the post tonight. I'm too knackered.

Monday, February 26, 2007


I believe I used this as a word of the post before, but this is too good an example to pass up...

Word of the post:

n. pl. i·ro·nies

The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.
An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning.
A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect.
Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs: "Hyde noted the irony of Ireland's copying the nation she most hated" (Richard Kain).
An occurrence, result, or circumstance notable for such incongruity.
Dramatic irony.
Socratic irony.

Example: See here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Detective iTunes?

Who would have thought a music player/library program could detect fraud?

Word of the post:

bloviate \BLOH-vee-ayt\
-intransitive verb

To speak or write at length in a pompous or boastful manner.

Example: I have never bloviated in my blog. Never. Honest.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Thinking quotes

Our University publishes a research magazine about every quarter. Generally it's not very interesting, at least to me. However, on the last page they tend to have a series of quotes. These quotes are related to one another in some way. The current issue has a series of quotes regarding thinking. I thought some were worth sharing:

"The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them."
- Sir William Bragg

This is more true than many non-scientists might think. My postdoctoral advisor was very fond of saying "If you want to find a really good research project, just open a textbook and find a passage that starts with 'It is well known that...' There's your research project." My own work involves expanding upon observations first made over forty-five years ago!

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices."
- William James

"A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking."
- Harold Fricklestein

"Today, if you are not confused, you are not thinking clearly."
- Irene Peter

Talk about a great excuse for my constant state of confusion...

Finally, here's one for the current occupant of the White House and his cronies:

"All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal."
- John Steinbeck

Word of the post:

ob·strep·er·ous [uhb-strep-er-uhs]

1. resisting control or restraint in a difficult manner; unruly.
2. noisy, clamorous, or boisterous: obstreperous children.

No example. I just like the way obstreperous sounds.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Yesterday was a good day

We heard from the National Science Foundation that a proposal I had submitted last August is funded. This is to run a summer undergraduate research program. We're going to host eight undergrads in our labs and give them research projects to do. Pretty cool. My chairman is very happy about it. He told me so. Twice. Of course now the real work begins...

Being a typical government agency, the NSF has given us funding right at about the time we should be finishing our recruiting for the summer. So we have to recruit very quickly. Oh yeah, we're also supposed to have a detailed website for our program by yesterday, or even earlier. So I'm busier than a one-legged man in a bum kicking contest.

And the NSF is requiring me to attend a workshop in DC in March... Fortunately this starts the day after a meeting I'm attending in Baltimore ends. So I've extended my trip. I'm not terribly happy about being out of town so long, but that's the way it is.

Word of the post:

kvetch \KVECH\

1. To complain habitually.

1. A complaint.
2. A habitual complainer.

Example: One of our less successful faculty has become a kvetch. It's very irritating. Not that I'm kvetching.