Saturday, December 16, 2006

Salt in Central Asia

There is a good article about getting iodine in salt in Central Asia in the New York Times. I was struck by the lobbyists who sprung up to challenge putting iodine in salt, which reportedly can eliminate iodine deficiencies. Iodine deficiencies in pregnant women, by the way, lower IQ points by 10-15% for their babies, and causes cretinism and dwarfism. The cost of the iodine added to a ton of salt is about $1.15, which in my opinion, is a pretty good deal for a 15 point gain in IQ. The article specifically mentions some work in Kazakhstan to convince people that iodized salt is good for you. It is funny, because the reporter mentioned that in Turkmenistan, the dictator in one fell swoop made non-iodized salt illegal, and gave away 11 pounds of iodized salt to every citizen every year. Sometimes even a dictator can do good.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Alternative Energy

Like most people (save oil executives, perhaps), I am very interested in alternative energies. It is sometimes disheartening to see renewable energy shunned in favor for petroleum products for energy needs. With the infrastructure already created to use oil and gas, renewable or alternative energies can't simply be as good as oil, but instead must be much better than oil, in order to be adopted. For that reason I am really excited about some scientific research just released that shows that low input high diversity (LIHD) native grassland perennials can produce a much better return than corn or soybeans in creating energy. The article is in Science, so you may not be able to see it, as it is restricted access. However, the gist of the research is that when a broad variety of native grasslands are planted in agriculturally degraded lands, they can produce over three times as much energy than corn or soybean derived energy products. What is even better is that this grassland biofuel cycle puts carbon back in the ground, so that the entire process actually reduces greenhouse gases. I don't know how much is spent on finding oil each year or transporting it to the places that need it, but these scientists have essentially shown that you can take a barren piece of land, plant a bunch of grasses on it, leave it without irrigation or fertilization, and in result reduce greenhouse emissions and get a (big) net positive production of energy. How cool is that?

Getting busy

Like everyone, things are getting a little bit busy in December. At the first of the month, Courtney and I had our annual cookie party. Now, I am working on astronomy code for Sara, working at the fruit stand about 25 hours a week, and trying to study for my viva. Thus, less updates.
However, I wanted to mention a friend's blog, Its beyond me. Jared is a smart guy. People should listen to him.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Education in the City

There is a fantastic article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine about educating low-income students, mostly in the inner city. I was very impressed with some of the explanations for student success, and think that parents (or prospective parents) would specifically like to know some of the information. I am also enamored with the charter schools mentioned in the article, and would love to see KIPP in the Arkansas Delta.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Selling Kidneys

There is an article about selling kidneys on the Economist right now. They are pro. It reminds me of a paper I wrote once about allowing death-row inmates to donate their organs. Give the article a read, if you have a chance.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Thesis away!

So, my deadline was the 31 October for my thesis. I ended up sending it on the 3rd November, putting it in a FedEx box to send to Scotland. I already know of a couple of errors in it, but by and large I am extremely relieved to have turned it in. If anyone wants to look at it, go ahead. Be warned that it is about 20 MB and might take a little while to download.

I will continue to work on my research, for Sara and to prepare for my viva in January, but I will have a lot more free time than before. It feels good to be back in the world.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

100 pages

So, I am sure all you humanities people will laugh at the brevity of a science thesis. But, remember, a picture (or a plot) is worth a thousand words (I hope). I am still actively working, and it is a jumbled mess right now, but I passed the 100 page mark (sort of). So, if you are having a difficult time getting to sleep tonight, or you have nothing else to do, then feel free to download and take a look at the thesis.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Where am I?

Well, I am in the thick of an extrasolar planet atmosphere, computing rho, tau, kappa, and other greek symbols. I am going to finish my Ph.D. work by 31 October, so I probably won't write much until then. I hope everyone is enjoying the autumn.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Courtney Passed

You can now call Courtney Dr. Hood. She has just passed her viva. She and her mother are coming home tomorrow from Scotland, the land of rain. I am so proud of her.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ron Moore

Ron Moore is the wildly successful writer and creator of Battlestar Galatica. He writes an excellent op-ed piece in the New York Times about the optimism of science fiction, and specifically, Star Trek. I know science fiction isn't everyone's cup of tea, but the article is a good indication of why so many of us do love it. Also, take a look at Battlestar if you haven't already. It really is great.

Courtney is in Scotland

So, Courtney and her mother are in Scotland right now. Both her parents flew to DC on Friday, and Courtney and her mom both flew to Scotland on Saturday, and I hung out with Courtney's dad on Saturday and Sunday. It was pretty good fun. We headed out to the movies on Saturday night and watched The Guardian. There were certainly a few well-worn cinematic elements, but overall I thought it was a good movie. I was also pleased that it only cost $6.75, which I think was a special price because it was a prerelease movie (it doesn't open until next week, I think). We also got some Hard Times Chili, of which I am a fan (I miss chili cheese hot dogs, but the vegetarian hamburger I had was pretty tasty).
I hope Courtney gets back soon.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Woo Pig Chewy!

So, the New York Times thought it a good idea to write a little profile of my governor, Mike Huckabee. I might not consider myself a republican, but I am very proud of what he is doing to change the attitudes in Arkansas about food. I am much less proud of his attempt to turn this fat-busting into a presidential campaign. Maybe there is a lot more depth to him than I know, but you can't turn one issue (and a small one, relatively) into a presidential bid. Of course, I hope the best for him. Maybe we will have another Arkansawyer in the White House.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

An excellent bit of learning

William M. Chace, a former president of Emory University, wrote a nice little Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, entitled, A Little Learning is an Expensive Thing. I thought is was an entertaining and excellent overview of a component of higher education. I thought it was very interesting to hear that more than half the students at selective colleges come from the highest earning quarter of households.

An excellent bit of learning

William M. Chace, a former president of Emory University, wrote a nice little Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, entitled, A Little Learning is an Expensive Thing. I thought is was an entertaining and excellent overview of a component of higher education. I thought it was very interesting to hear that more than half the students at selective colleges come from the highest earning quarter of households.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Could it have been America?

A lot of liberal democrats like to say things like "Bush stole the presidency," and that he wasn't really elected to his office, because of the closeness of the Gore/Bush vote. However, it is interesting to watch a close vote occur in Mexico, and the ramifications of that vote. Could America have descended into that kind of anarchy? Would Gore have ever threatened to set up a parallel government? I hope others would agree that even the imperfect solution of having Bush as president is better than the kind of conflict that might occur in Mexico for the next six years.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Wedding Photos!

We have all our wedding photos, and we have been dutifully culling through them to find the best photos. We have chosen a small selection of best photos, and then a larger collection of photos. Feel free to take a look at them if you have time. We had such a fantastic time at the wedding, and I am glad that it really shows in the photographs.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I ♥ Pluto

The title is an Op-Ed piece written in the New York Times by cartoonist Tim Kreider. I am much more fond of Kreider's explanations and rationale for keeping Pluto a planet than anything I have heard from any astronomer. He sums up very nicely what I feel as an astronomer: Pluto is a planet because it has been for the last 70 years, but that it is silly to induct more into the exclusive club. I have just read that at the IAU the vote is to demote Pluto to a minor planet. I am disappointed, but this is not the first time astronomy has disappointed me, and it won't be the last.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Woo-Pig Sooie

Courtney and I just returned from a trip to Arkansas. We went to a Bodenhamer Fellows dinner and were able to speak to Dr. Bodenhamer, Chancellor White, and many of my friends from the University of Arkansas. One nice thing is that we were able to pick up Aperture from the university bookstore, so now I can start organizing the 2000+ photos of the wedding that we just received from our photographer. Hopefully by this weekend I will have some photos online. For now, I am having some more trouble with cosines. Oh well.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Wet or Dry?

So, some of you probably will think it is crazy, but where I grew up in Arkansas we couldn't buy alcohol. Not at a restaurant or at the supermarket or anywhere else. I lived in a dry county, Saline. When you wanted to buy alcohol, you had to drive to Pulaski county, home of Little Rock. Recently, Saline county has been booming, as expansion from Little Rock pushes more people farther out. This was helped by a major expansion of the interstate between Saline and Pulaski County. Right now, across the interstate from my house, on some former pastures, construction companies are finishing a Super Target and an Old Navy. So for us at least, we are going big time. However, our restaurants continue to languish, with the only options being fast food and the occasional mom and pop establishment on the order of a Denny's. Some have suggested that the liquor laws are preventing us from having any "fine dining," which I mean to include Olive Garden or Red Lobster or any better than fast food options. I haven't quite made up my mind yet, but there is an article in the New York Times about counties deciding to go wet. It covers the issue pretty well, I think. On a toss-up, however, I would prefer to stay dry until I am certain that going wet would significantly help, because I see it has a one-shot deal. If Saline County goes wet, then there will never be an option to go dry again (I don't think).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

First few pictures

So, a few wedding pictures are trickling in, which is probably a good thing, since we will probably be deluged with them when we receive the big package. This is one of my favorites so far. When we get them all, I will put them online, so all you voyeurs can see us in our wedding glory.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Rehearsal Dinner Video

Courtney and I made a video/slide show for the rehearsal dinner. It is basically a slide show of our pictures, with some of the wedding party included. I uploaded it so that everyone who wasn't at the rehearsal dinner can see it. It will take a little bit of time to download, because it is about 30 megabytes. The entire movie is about 12 minutes long.

Big C Project

So, I haven't been writing much because I am working on a big C project for a couple of weeks. Hopefully it will be finished by the time Sara comes back from Canada. Courtney and I have also been trying to get the apartment in order (to no avail), and we are possibly going down to Arkansas next week. Anybody have any tips on buying a car? We need one bad, since the AC is broken in Courtney's car. I am hoping to find a nice, used Toyota somewhere.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Honeymoon Pictures!

So, I put up a new photographs page, where I will be linking all my photographs. One of the first sets is our pictures from our honeymoon. We will have pictures from the wedding soon, and I will link those to the same page!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Winthrop Rockefeller

Well, I guess I know how I missed this, because it happened just the day after the wedding, but Winthrop Rockefeller, the Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas, has passed away. Wow. He was just about the same age as my parents. He had a blood disorder, and I remember his family asking people to be tested for bone marrow matches. What a shame. His father single-handedly opened Arkansas politics up to two parties, and in effect brought Arkansas government that much closer to a democracy. I suppose Winthrop could have had a huge impact, if his time weren't cut short.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Back from the honeymoon!

Though there was internet access at the Rusty Parrot, for obvious reasons I resisted the urge to post blogs while on my honeymoon. However, I took loads of pictures (not that kind, William), of us mountain biking and hiking, etc, and I will post them shortly.

I hope everyone is enjoying the summer heat.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Deceiving Headline

I was excited to notice an article in the NYTimes called "How to Educate Young Scientists." However, it was little more than a mention of a problem that is enormous in scope. I suppose every mention is a step in the right direction, but I was left wanting more.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Vegas

Why hasn't Ben written anything? Because he has been in Vegas! (end third person). I won't bore you with all the details, but on Friday morning, Courtney, Richard and I headed out to Vegas, and we caught the red-eye back on Sunday night. Courtney met up with four friends, so I didn't see her all weekend, and Kin, Michael, Michael and Richard and I had a grand time. The best was in the MGM Grand, where we were waiting for Ka to start, and we sat down to a $10 blackjack table. I am usually more of a $3 Sahara table kind of person. We sat down because the table was empty, so all five of us could play. We all were up and down a bit, and I ended up with $75 left of $100 I brought to the table. I decided that I would play just one $25 chip to see if I could get even. I got two sixes against the dealer's four. So, I split the sixes and got another six on the first, so I split those, so I had to put down $75 on the table, a huge hand for me. The dealer gave me a three on the first six, so I doubled down, and got 15 total with a six card, and I stayed. The second hand I got a 10, for 16 total, and I stayed. The third hand she gave me a four, so I doubled down again and got an eight, for 18. So, in the end I had $125 riding on one hand, whereas I usually do $3, and my hands are weak enough that if the dealer gets anything I am screwed. Well, thank goodness the numbers were in my favor, because she busted, and I walked away with $250 from my $125, making me well ahead in Vegas.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ryan touring

Ryan Young, my brother in law, is touring through some of the midwest. He will be playing in Little Rock on Tuesday night at the Afterthought at 8 pm, Bryant on Wednesday night at Woodside Coffee at 7 pm, and Fayetteville on Thursday night at The Gypsy at 9 pm. Take a look at some of his music and go out and support him if you are around.

Living the dream

Star Trek Fans all over the world are making their own episodes and movies, in order to broadcast them on the internet, according to an excellent article in the New York Times. Take a look at the video connected to the article in order to delve a little deeper into the phenomenon. I only have one question: what am I doing with my life?

I consider myself a bigger Star Trek fan than most, but it is all about shades of gray. I have never filmed a Star Trek episode (StarWars, maybe...). However, I did notice that one of the groups is in Northern Virginia/DC, Starship Farragut. Maybe they need some help. Maybe I will wait until after Courtney signs the marriage certificate.

Good for us

The Episcopal church has elected a woman presiding bishop. That is to say that the Episcopal church of the United States now is represented by a woman, Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada. One of the criticisms that conservative churches (ones who do not accept women being ordained even as priests) levy is that the election of a woman emphasizes that the church of the US is out of touch with the rest of the Anglican community in the world. In this instance, I am glad that we are out of touch. How, actually, do you "get in touch" with bigotry and bias?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Next month this time…

I will be married! Or nearly. I suppose it will be a few hours from now. Courtney and I have been working hard on everything, and she is slowly becoming a little crazy about it. I think I can handle one month of crazy. I think I have been really luck thus far, because I think some guys get about 6 months to a year of crazy. Things I need to do:
1. Work on the program
2. Work on the slideshow
3. Go to Vegas
OK. I think that is it for me. I will go learn how to play blackjack.

Friday, June 09, 2006

New blog!

My best friend Michael Trieu has just started a new blog. He is one of the funniest people I know, so it is definitely worth reading, if you have a chance. And by all means, if you like it, let him know.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I love Arkansas

Just a couple of days ago I spoke to a friend of mine from Arkansas. He is down in AR for the summer, but is doing a graduate program at Harvard right now. We spoke about the future of Arkansas and I got really excited about it. We talked a little about the book I am reading now, Arkansas Politics and Government, by Diane Blair and Jay Barth. It is a fantastic account of politics in Arkansas. This second edition is rather topical, with a lot of references to 2002-2005 material, so read it now while it is fresh.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Delinquent Blogger

Much excitement we have had in the past couple of weeks. So, because of that, I haven't ben as frequent a blogger as I would like. So, for you two readers (I count myself in that), I blog today.
Courtney and I headed down to Arkansas Memorial Day weekend for three wedding showers. A good time was had by all. We started off with a great party thrown by my family (it included boys). Then Courtney attended a ladies shower on Saturday at 2 pm, then we headed over to a church shower on Saturday night at 6 pm. Sunday we played with the kids and headed over to Hot Springs and then to Billy's Library. Monday Courtney had to fly out, of course to make some money for us on Tuesday. I stayed until Tuesday afternoon and spent that morning getting my driver's license renewed. We got some fantastic stuff at the showers, including a new juicer. I am super excited about it, but since fresh fruit is so expensive, I am going to start out by juicing stuff around our apartment, like Courtney's shoes. We also got a really posh wine cabinet from Crate and Barrel from all my siblings, which I put together yesterday. Twice.

I hope everyone's weekend was just as fun as mine.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Courtney called!

Courtney will be coming home tomorrow night, but today when I got back from work in the morning, Alex had picked up my phone because she was calling! I got there just in time to talk to her. It was great to hear her voice, but I am not sure she was having a great time. (Perhaps the fermented horse milk has something to do with it.) Anyway, she seems really excited about coming back to the states, and told me I should get to the airport a few hours early just in case her flight came in early. I have been frantically trying to do everything on "the list." Anyone know of any good wedding readings?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Alex on his way

I have a friend who I met in St. Andrews, Alex Yabroff. He is actually from California, and graduated last year but has been wasting his time in St. Andrews being the student association president. Right now he is in the air flying here to Washington, to stay with Courtney and me for a few days, and hopefully to find a job in international relations. Should be good fun. Other than that, not much going on with my bachelor life. Only two more days and then Courtney will be home. Yay!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

2003 technology!

A couple of weeks ago I borrowed an EyeTV 500 from my friend Dustin Johnson. I also ordered a 500GB hard drive from Dell. Of course the hard drive was backordered, twice, so I only received it yesterday (the price was awesome, though). Last night, after a little finagling, I was able to record television shows with my computer, ala TiVo! I recorded William F**king Shatner on David Letterman. Even though my underwear is all over the living room, I am living in a pig sty, and Courtney is going to kill me for not taking care of everything before she gets back, I have a working DVR, and everything is right with the world.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Did you get a haircut?

No, I got many of them cut! (Cue laughter.) Well, Courtney is out of town, and my hair was getting shaggy, so I asked my friend Mike Fowler to cut it for me. Thirty minutes later and about a pound of hair on the floor, the deed is done. I think it turned out pretty good, except the huge gapping hole in the back where I thought Mike was being too timid, so I grabbed the buzzer and took out a patch myself. It will probably take a day for Mike to clean the hair off.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Everybody wants a treehouse

Ezra Idlet, part of Arkansas folk duo, Trout Fishing in America, built a tree house for himself on his 100 acres in the Boston mountains. Pictures of the abode and the accompanying story are in the NYTimes today. I really enjoy TFiA. I have a couple of their CDs and attended a free concert at Gulley Park in Fayetteville while in college. I am glad to see such a fun house in Arkansas.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Photography class

I mentioned earlier that Courtney bought me a photography class for my birthday. Well, we just finished up our final field session yesterday. We visited three places, and for Tuesday we are to pick our 10 favorite shots to bring into class for a critique. I picked 11, and put them up on the web. Take a look at them if you have time, and if you really don't like one, let me know, and maybe I will drop that one so I get down to the requisite 10 photos.


Courtney and I attended the Carnegie Evening lecture on Thursday night at the Carnegie Institution. It was fantastic. Christopher Somerville spoke all night about meeting our energy needs with biofuels. He wasn't so into the biodiesel that is now being marketed, but instead feels that in the next few years advances in the process of converting cellulose into liquid fuel will allow a conversion to biofuels. He suggested that Miscanthus, a tall perrenial grass, could be largely grown to convert into liquid fuel. The benefit of using grasses to make fuel, of course, is that it is carbon neutral. In the case of petroleum, we are taking carbon from the ground and putting it into the air. However, with Miscanthus, to be grown it has to take carbon from the air, so we don't release any more carbon than is already out there.

Monday, May 01, 2006

France should surrender

I am always a fan of complaining about the French. Moreso of late, because of the inane legislation to breakup the iTunes music delivery model. I suppose many Mac enthusiasts have been following the story, and I thought it was particularly ironic to hear the French trade minister support the legislation while in Silicon Valley trying to drum up technology spending in France! Today there was an excellent piece in the New York Times that explains the situation from an economic point of view. I thought an excellent line in the piece was:
French politicians have abandoned one of the guiding principles of antitrust economics: penalize companies that harm consumers, not the ones that succeed by building better products.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Happiness is free ice cream

Ben & Jerry's, that bastion of liberal ice cream, has its free cone day today. I will wait until Courtney comes home from work (she gets off early today), and we will head down there. What a great way to mark the start of spring, and ice cream-eating weather. What is your favorite flavor? Mine is "Everything but the...".

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

New home network

My best friend is building his house. Actually, his father is building his house, because his father is a builder. I have said that I would like to help out with networking connectivity. I can tell him what to put into the house now, while it is being built, so that he can have good connectivity later. I think a cat-5 connection is pretty important in all the rooms, especially near the television. It seems to me that this is a good idea because physical connections will always be faster than wireless ones, and with all the streaming (music, video) that is likely going to take place in a house, gigabit ethernet will be essential. I am going to spec everything out, so that he can see what it will all cost. I know this is a pretty boring post for most people, but this is the most excited I have been about a project in days.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Real page-turner

I have made a lot of progress on my astronomy paper. Courtney went through it last night and made a lot of excellent suggestions, so it should flow at least a little better now (how ever well a paper about fractal Monte Carlo-based atmospheric simulations can really flow). If anyone actually reads through it, I will give you a prize. And that prize is knowledge. Knowledge about extrasolar planetary atmospheric simulations. Actually, it would scare me if anyone actually got through it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

How awesome is Google Analytics?

The other day someone mentioned how easy it was to know the geographic location of visitors to his website. The key is Google Analytics. I am sure there are lots of other analytics programs, but Google, with it's excellent track record with free, well-executed web tools makes me very happy. With their website, I just put a little piece of code into my webpages, and then viola, I can see where everyone is coming from to read my weblog. It is a huge trip, to see people from Germany or Brazil or Nebraska reading DCDork. I am sure it is great for people who want to make money from their website, but for me, it is all ego.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Nuclear power

I think that the liberal tone of the New York Times is pretty apparent in this article about nuclear power coming to a small town in South Carolina. The author seems to start with the suggestion that nuclear power should be distrusted. He makes the story into "Golly-Gee, these people seem to welcome their nuclear overlords! What is wrong with them?" On this issue, it upsets me. Though I am liberal, I am a staunch advocate of nuclear power, so I resent the author's suggestion that it is unsafe. Within the first three paragraphs he had mentioned Three-mile Island and Chernobyl. What of the horrible consequences of coal-burning or oil refineries? Shame on him.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Yesterday: WOW. Today: CA

Yesterday we spent the entire day "working on wedding" (WOW). Wow is right. We lined envelopes, traced vellum, printed card stock, and in general did a bunch of things that were keeping Courtney up at night. She has been pretty calm about things up until now, but in the last few days has been getting more antsy. So, I tried very hard to get everything done that she wanted done. I still need to buy a tuxedo, so I called the Ralph Lauren store yesterday in Georgetown, but I haven't gotten a chance to go, yet.

Today, on the other hand, is cleaning apartment day. We have let things go a little bit, so we are picking up and getting everything in the right place. Yesterday we went to Costco and bought 4 pounds of jelly belly jelly beans, so if we work hard, we will have a little treat in the end.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Creationists take a blow

Well, creationism took another blow today, when scientists discovered an fossil which shows features of both fish and land animals. The article takes a very nice line from a creationism website:
For example, not a single fossil with part fins, part feet has been found. And this is true between every major plant and animal kind.
Creationists need to be careful to choose their words. If they don't choose carefully, then they will be left with nothing as the march of science fills in all the gaps which they use to defend their creationism doctrine.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A cold day in Hell

Well, Apple just announced that they will provide software to allow their computers to run windows. The gloves have come off, and Apple is fighting hard for the desktop. I love Phil Schiller's comment:
Many customers have expressed their interest to run Windows on Apple’s superior hardware.

Let the games begin.

Welcome to the party, Iran

Hope you enjoy the view.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Cherry Blossoms

Courtney and I headed down to the tidal basin on Friday to see the cherry blossoms. It was fantastic. We were there at day break, so there weren't many people (though a lot more than I expected). I put up some of the pictures, if you want to see. This past weekend was much excitement at the fruit stand. We sold a bunch of fruit, and there was much rejoicing. Now, I am hunkering down for some astronomy. I will let you know when the paper is up.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Well, it has been over a week. My sincere apologies. Last weekend, Courtney and I headed down to Atlanta for William Leasure's wedding. We didn't get back until Monday morning, when I started attending AbSciCon 2006, which is a conference that was here in town which covered topics in astrobiology. Astrobiology is sort of what I do, since I am looking for planets around other stars. A bunch of friends of mine, from different institutions, were here for the conference. I didn't have much time, and since there was no (free) internet access at the Reagan Center, I didn't get a chance to update the blog.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Having a problem with Blogger?

Am I the only one having a problem with blogger? I am submitting this post from the Dashboard widget, but when I try to sign on from the webpage, I get a server problem page. I am pretty sure I have been getting it since yesterday at least. Maybe it is just me?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Amazingly awkward

That is how I dance. I am a very poor dancer. And at our new dance lessons, I have to be a poor dancer with many partners. We don't get to only dance with our fiancees (because in reality, the only people there were couples getting married in the next six months), but with other people's fiancees. One down, three to go.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


So, it took about two months. Two months since Apple released their intel-based hardware, for hackers to get Windows running on it. That is excellent. It will only increase the value of buying a Macintosh. It is obviously a hack, so no one can reasonably ask Apple to support it, but it will be a selling point for those people who are techy and want to play with a mac. And, I think it should be a lot easier (especially with Apple's legal department) to run Windows on a mac than to run OS X on a PC.

Monday, March 13, 2006

New Shoes?

Hopefully Courtney will see this. I have been very unhappy with the Steve Madden shoes I bought a couple of months ago. I much prefer his brother, John's, work. So, I am thinking about buying some new shoes on the "internet." They seem to be an alright price, but I am not sure if they will look alright on me. Take a look, and let me know if I should order them. Also, does anyone else worry about how shoes from the "internet" will fit?

Good luck Rivers!

So, my friend the rocket scientist is going to launch his rocket tomorrow, at 9:02 am. I don't exactly know how rocket launches work, but I hope he has everything already worked out by now on the launch. I wish him the best of luck.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Paper still

Sorry it has been a while for an update. I am still working on my clouds paper, so I haven't had a lot of time. Sara was not in this week, so I stayed home and pretty much just worked on my paper the entire time. It got sort of difficult running all my codes on G4s, at 1GHz or less, but it worked out all right. If anyone wants to send me an SSH account to a dual or quad G5 (preferably with g77 installed, but hey, I will take what I can get), then that would help the plight of monte carlo based radiation transfer exoplanet atmospheric simulation astronomers everywhere. Actually, it would only help me, but that would be the same.
I did find a nice cool little movie, Robert Keely and the Misfit Kids by Chase Voorhees, in the (little known) Apple student gallery. It is worth taking a look, if you get a chance. Pretty funny.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

Courtney and I headed to see Brokeback Mountain at Ballston. We both thought it was really sad. I thought it was really funny when she said that she didn't know it was about gay cowboys. She knew it was about cowboys, but didn't know they were gay. I would think that the sex scene was quite a surprise to her. I thought it was excellently done. I think it is very much an Oscar contender, but I don't know if I thought the technical achievement of the actors was worthy of an Oscar. It is more just the subject matter that is so different, so perhaps the best picture or directing. I think Joaquin Phoenix's portrayal of Johnny Cash deserves the acting award. Just stunning.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

My paper is my life

At least for the next few days it is. I was supposed to get a paper finished by the end of February, but here we are in March and it isn't done. So, because of that I will forego bathing, eating, etc. in order to get the paper finished. It will probably be crap anyway. Oh well.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


I had some guys over the other night to play some poker, and it was excellent. We all put in $10, and I got back $13. Not bad, I think. Also, I excuse about $3 lost to Dustin as a freakish hand. I had a straight, 10-A, but there were two aces showing. I should have backed out anyway, because I was pretty sure he had a full house, but then he threw down the other two aces. Four aces is a difficult hand to beat. Oh well.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Science Friday

There is a good segment on NPR right now with Maggie Turnbull, who is a Post Doc at Carnegie with me. Tune in.

New Google Widgets

There are some cool new widgets from Google announced today at Google's official blog. I am actually posting this blog from my dashboard right now, instead of the familiar web interface. It is nice to see Google making something for the Mac crowd, especially since google pages doesn't work with safari. I was beginning to feel left out.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Technical junk

OK, so this is not so interesting, but I think there is a limit to the number of nested while loops I can put into a C shell script (at least in my OS X implementation of C shell). I am writing a script to run my simulations, and when I put three nested while loops into a fourth, my code would run without incident, but when it got to the end of the largest loop, it would only run once. I double checked everything, and then I wrote a little code that only looped and incremented four variables. Lo and behold, the same thing happened, and the largest loop only happened once. I haven't found any documentation online, so it could be limited to my particular setup, or it could be a general C shell limit. To fix it, I changed the largest loop to a if statement with a goto command to head up to the top of the other loops. If anyone has any information about this, let me know.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Courtney, Tommy and I headed out to watch Syriana on Thursday night. What a terrific movie. Of course, I have no real understanding of the truthfulness of the events or even the premise of the film. It seems to me like it could be plausible enough, but I just don't know. I mean, I know that some of the events in the movie are false, but how close are they to things that have really happened, or could happen? If you haven't seen it, yet, make a point of seeing it.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Grant Cox?

Hey, I am looking for a guy named Grant Cox. I can't find him on Google. And I don't know where else to look. What happened before we could ask google things? Must have been like the dark ages. Oh well, I think he might be in Law school in Little Rock. I suppose I could call.

Astronomy talk

I gave a talk this morning to the astronomy group. I had 14 slides, and our group is sort of talkative, so I figured that it would take about 30 minutes. You know, usually one minute a slide but two because of so many questions. Well, I finished after an hour and five minutes. I was running against lunch at noon, and I started at 11. There were some great comments, and I was not certain about some of the questions, but over all it was a good experience. I need to head to IDL now to make some more explanatory plots to put in the paper and any future talk.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Nap time?

It will be if you want to read my astronomy paper. However, if you have the mind to, then please be my guest. For those on the edge, it describes some software we have developed to simulate an extrasolar planetary atmosphere. I have just started it, so there are only a couple of pages. I will update it continuously, and hopefully it will be in a pretty good state by the end of February.

Awesome Casino Party

We had quite the party on Saturday night. Only a couple of people couldn't make it because of the snow. Most people were on the metro, and it worked out just fine. We had about 22 people here, I guess. We didn't have much roulette action, but the poker room was always full, as well as the black jack table. Most of the night someone was also at the craps table, especially after Tommy showed up to tell us how to play it. The auction at the end of the night was hella fun, and nearly everyone went home with a prize (except poor Dave). We are already planning on doing it next year.

Friday, February 10, 2006

It's Alive!

OK, so since I linked to it from my main webpage, I guess my wedding website is now live. For all of you guys who are interested, head over to to see our wedding website. Most of the pages are up, but if you find anything missing, then don't hesitate to send me an e-mail, so that I can fix it.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Crock pot

Mom bought me a crock pot/fryer/steamer for my birthday. It might not sound cool to you guys, but it does to me. Courtney and I have already made a huge pot of chilli the other day, and only finished it last night. This morning we through all the stuff in for chicken cacciatore. It should be finished when we get home today, ready for our meal with Kelly & Brandon tonight.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bad weekend

The weekend could have been better. The only good thing about it was when Courtney finally got back from Scotland on Sunday. We spent some time when she got back setting up for this weekend's party. We bought some martini glasses and some other cool stuff for gambling. Everybody practice, because we are going to take your money. I am headed over to the fruit stand tonight. The only night this week, which is nice. I need to get my paper finished.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

New webpage

I just got iWeb, the new application in Apple's new iLife '06, and I used it to make a new website for myself. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Happy Ground Hogs Day!

To all you guys out there waiting with baited breath for the ground hog, I salute you!
In other news, I worked last night at the fruit stand. I did alright, but the best find was some cardboard boxes that we were tossing. I grabbed a few, because we don't yet have enough tables for Casino Night. I am going to put a few together with cardboard and the felt table clothes that came in the casino set. Then set them on trunks or something. I know it sounds ghetto, but it is going to be ghreat.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Courtney's leaving

So, Courtney is heading back to Scotland tomorrow for her dissertation defense. I think it will be a whirlwind trip back, touch down on Wednesday, defend on Friday, then fly back early Sunday morning. I hope she remembers to pick up the poker stuff from Alex's closet. We need it for the casino party.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Fantastic Birthday

We had a great time yesterday for my birthday. James came over, and the four of us went out to The Melting Pot for dinner. It was super fun, with one central fondue pot and everyone sharing the cheese or chocolate in the middle. After dinner, we went back to our apartment where Courtney had baked me a superman cake. It was quite tasty. I also got to open my presents, which included a steamer/fryer from my mom, and a superman t-shirt from Courtney's parents. The coolest thing was that Courtney got me a photography lesson as a gift! And the place is just next door to our apartment, so it is super easy to get there. However, we have two classes that are out in the field! The teacher is Corey Hilz, and I can hardly wait until April for the classes.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

It's my Birthday!

Howdy everyone. Today, 26 years ago, I was born in Saline County Hospital in Benton, Arkansas. This morning, in honor of that fact, Courtney brought me a cinnamon roll with a candle in it while singing Happy Birthday. We will go out to eat tonight, but we won't have a party until 11 February, when we have the Casino Party. I also found out that Michael Trieu is the surprise gift giver. He sent me a huge poker chip set complete with metal carrying case that would also fit a shotgun (is he telling me something?) As for the rest of you, get shopping.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Creationism and Evolutionism

The NYTimes has a nice essay about the evolution debate. It is part book review, part history of the issue, and part personal discourse. The author rightly mentions that scientists often go beyond the scientific when discussing evolution. There is certainly Darwinism, which goes beyond the acceptance of evolution, and attaches moral significance to accepting evolution. Scientists should be vigilant against those types of assumptions.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Teach for America

So, I am still thinking about Teach for America next year. The deadline is in February, and I think it sounds great except that the training occurs right around the same time as our wedding. So, that makes it a bit awkward. The training is suppose to be in Philadelphia, and if I can get off at least a day or two from the training, I don't think I can do it. But, I will try. However, I have to apply first, and right now I am writing the application letter. Take a look at it and tell me what you think.

New Scientists

The Republicans have sponsored some new education legislation that will encourage college juniors and seniors to choose science and technology majors. I think it is pretty funny that the republicans are the ones meddling in education, since they are usually so adamant that education is a state's prerogative. However, that irony might just highlight the severity of our situation in training new scientists and engineers. Not enough Americans want to take the hard sciences. I think that is a shame, and I applaud the new legislation (even though from republicans it may be).

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Preview versus Acrobat Reader?

For some reason, PDFs that I view on webpages will no longer open in Preview, Apple's PDF viewer. I have to download them separately. Now they all ask for Adobe Acrobat Reader, and when it asks me to choose Reader, it won't let me choose Preview as the application to open the document. Anyone know what is going on here?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Secret gift giver

Someone wants the casino party to be a huge success. In the last couple of days, I have received a green poker visor and a really kick-ass set of chips in a carrying case. There was no note with either, so I can only assume a fellow gambling admirer is helping me to a good party with a few targeted birthday presents. Whoever it is, I appreciate the gifts.

Monday, January 16, 2006

11 February

February 11 is the day. Get out your money and sharpen your card skills. Courtney and I are having our second annual Casino Party! We have the cards, the chips and the dealers, you guys bring the prizes and your luck. If you are in the DC area, you should have gotten an e-vite by now. If you haven't, then shoot me an e-mail. New this year is a craps table (which I need to build.) This is going to be hella fun.

Happy Martin Luther King Day

I hope everyone enjoys their holiday and remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King today. He was a powerful force on American society, and his contributions should not be forgotten.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Ben does good

I just downloaded a song from iTunes Music Store. It is called Bitches Ain't Shit by Ben Folds. It is a cover originally released by Dr. Dre. I thought it was terrific. I recommend it to everyone who is old enough to listen to it. I am becoming a big fan of Ben Folds.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Big News

While I was stuck at the AAS astronomy conference, big things were happening over in San Francisco. Apple just released their first computers with Intel processors. They released the MacBook Pro, an eventual replacement for the Powerbook, and a new iMac. Both are significantly faster than the PowerPC versions that Apple was shipping before. However, they don't look much different than the PowerPC version. They are basically the same shell. Also shipping is a new version of iLife. That looks really cool. I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Courtney and I headed out to Chronicles of Narnia last night at our local theatre. What a terrific movie. I give it 4 stars, at least. Ted Brodigan in Hearts in Atlantis says that some books have a great story, and some books are well written, and it is a very rare book indeed that has both. I think Hollywood should trust readers more often when they decide to make a movie that has been a beloved book for decades. Then Hollywood only needs to worry about the movie, instead of the story (which they unfortunately screw up much of the time).

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

My poster sucks aas

So, I have nearly finished my poster for the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting next week. I will try to print it out tomorrow (3 ft by 4 ft) if my advisors don't find any huge glaring mistakes. You can take a look at it as well, but it is sort of odd sized.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Happy New Year!

Courtney and I had a kick-ass time out in Maryland over New Years. We went to a cabin owned by our friends Kelly and Brandon. I took some photos of us out there. I really like the picture of the bacon. Oh to be a vegetarian.
It is getting pretty busy around here. Zach, my friend from Arkansas is coming up on Saturday, and next week Courtney's Mom and Kallie are coming into town. Also, there is a big fruit convention in San Francisco, so we might get some different fruit to sell at the fruit stand. Finally, Courtney and I are hard at work trying to get the wedding all planned. My job is the website. I will let you guys see it when it is ready, which hopefully will be soon.
Oh, and finally, I have an astronomy conference next week. Should be food gun. Ed from St. Andrews will be there, which will be really nice.