Monday, December 14, 2009

Wax On...Wax Off

  • Posting a scathing comment about me to on the same morning that you come to my office hours to plead for a passing grade is pretty risky, especially when I subscribe to the RSS feed!
  • And people criticize string theory for being too pie-in-the-sky? Here's a concrete representation of it for just $90. That may seem cheap, but just remember than you need to buy something like 10 raised to the power of 500 of these to get something like our universe!
  • Teaching Tip #436: I've long been aware of a glaring weakness in my teaching; I'm bad at repeating things. In particular, I suck at reviewing things. I suppose it's because I'm pretty spare with my speech in the first place, and I tend to either understand something right away or I ask questions. So I've always simply expected students to ask if they don't get it. Of course, this often doesn't happen. Anyway, you might think just recognizing this defect means I could easily fix it, but not really. So here comes the tip: teaching is a bit like painting in which one needs to brush in various directions to fill in spots and establish a good covering. It may sound a bit corny, but it really helps me come into lecture each day and try saying the same things from previous lectures a bit differently.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Life Continues

  • Haven't seen this bumper sticker at APS
  • It had never occurred me not to list interview talks on my CV. I pretty much agree with this comment...listing a talk as invited simply isn't very definitive in terms of what it denotes. So if you're reading the CV, you don't get deceived; you just get some vague sense of how interested people are in your work.
  • The last NSF panel I was on, bent over backwards to consider that a PI was a member of an under-represented group. We debated what the person could have meant and what science the person could do. Ultimately we didn't fund that person simply because the science wasn't there, but we tried.
  • Could this be my long sought method for making grocery lists?
  • I'm busy as ever, but I keep meaning to discuss the insecurity of a physicist and how it drives one. I think the best analogy I can think of is a career I couldn't ever attempt, that is acting. Of course, I know very little except from the documentary series that is Thirty Rock and the character of Jenna Maroney in particular. She is horribly insecure about other actors, and I can imagine that she feels a bit similar to how I feel when I see others get invites that could have gone to me. Or when others publish good papers. I'd much prefer it if I could be a bit more laid back, content to publish what I can and enjoy the great job that I have. In fact, I oscillate between these two viewpoints achieving some level of sanity along with some level of professional success. Maybe I'm just bipolar when it comes to professional ambition. I wonder how others would describe their professional insecurity and sanity.
  • I also keep meaning to address the sports world. We've got Andre showing his true colors, Tiger making non-news, Jordan showing the world what a jerk he is, and Serena being a bully. Maybe later.
  • Another thing that keeps me occupied sometimes is thinking about my next car (due in only 10 years or so). I want something sporty, practical, and not ridiculously priced. In the running right now: Mazdaspeed 3, Volkswagen GTI, Nissan 370z. But Honda is coming out with a hybrid CRZ that looks promising.