Wednesday, March 29, 2006

First Ph.D. Committee Meeting

My first Ph.D. Committee meeting is today.  Today my newly formed committee will review my coursework and progress on research.  This is a big milestone for me.  One more step towards my graduation.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Maybe Next Time

I found this Craigslist "missed connections" posting on implieddissent.  I agree... I have no idea why this didn't work out for that guy.   I guess next time he should carry some emergency one dollar bills on him, just in case.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

SpaceX Falcon I Fails

Liftoff of SpaceX Falcon 1, March 24, 2006 5:30 ESTSpaceX's first attempt at a privately funded satellite launch failed on Friday. This is a shame. Although I was fully expecting a failure, due to to their over ambitious claims about their ability do this better than everyone else, I am dissapointed. I was hoping I was wrong and they could suceed on the first try. When engineers get cocky they also get sloppy. The initial study of the telemetry data indicates that some sort of fuel leak started a fire, leading to an explosion about 1 minute after liftoff.

Hopefully, they will fix the problem and get another Falcon I ready to launch soon. Amazingly, it appears that they payload, a tiny research satellite, may have been saved!

The image shows the fire starting at the "business end" of the rocket:

Those red-orange flames at the rear of the fuel tank are not supposed to be there.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


My friend/colleague Ben has just arrived from Taiwan. We will be working together on our research projects for the next 10 days. Surprisingly, he is awake and alert after his long flight and wants get to work right away.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

We have a Piper Down!

Hey everybody! It's a pipe off!

Maddy and I went to Doyles in Jamaica Plain on Saturday night for a Pipe-Off. Yeah, that's right, a battle of the Bappipes. New York Police Bagpipers vs. Boston Police Bagpipers. There were 50 Bagpipers from each group. This conversation was overheard on the street:

NYPD Piper: Whadaya, Whadaya you talking to me? Yeah, you think you the best pipers? Fagetaboutit!

Boston Pie-pah: You Yankee Pie-pahs are wickahd retahded! Boston is wicked aweeeesome!

NYPD Piper: I challenge you to a pipe off!

Boston Pie-pah: You bet-tah bring it! You guys' piping is gahbidge!

NYPD Piper: It's been brought-en!

Me: This is a wicked pissah!

Well... it was frigid last night and there was no way we were going to get inside, but we did get to hear the first 45 minutes or so of the piping before running home before we froze our toes off.

Some friends of mine were supposed to go, because of cold weather and other various reason. In fact, Deb Howell (deb's lame-o web site) alterted me that this was going on in my own neighborhood! Maddy was even a bit unsure about going, but I told her that one absolute principle in life is: "When 100 Bagpipers come to your neighborhood, you show up!" And so we went!

Here's some photos from outside:

New York Pipers Along Washington Street:
New York Pipers Along Washington Street

Maddy braves the cold weather:

The Boston Bagpipers Marching:

The New York Bagpipers Marching:

Bagpipe trivia: What's the best movie (ever) with a Bagpipe scene? So I Married an Ax Murderer, with Mike Myers. I was once read in Amtrak Magazine that this was Mike Myers worst movie. When I told Maddy this, her response was, "Have they seen The Cat in the Hat?"

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Gracie Update

Gracie Pham Simmons
Catherine "the Malmburger" Malmberg requested more Gracie photos, so here is one! She is a great cat (Gracie, not Catherine!). Unfortunately, she is getting in the habbit of waking us up in the morning as soon as the alarm goes off for the first time. I think she doesn't get the concept of snooze!

By the way, this post also goes out to Brody!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Weird Day

Today it has been about 38 to 40 degrees F and it's snowing, windy, and sunny outside.   I've never seen snow above freezing like this... at least not for many hours.   Very strange!

Beware the Ides of March!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Google Mars

In case you haven't heard, Google has launched Google Mars.  It's a cool way to browse the surface of Mars.  Soon they will be launching Mars version of Google Earth.

In other Mars news, the Mars Recognizance Orbiter (MRO) fired it's thrusters on Friday and captured into Mars Orbit.  This new mission features a camera with a huge ~20 inch lens for making excellent maps of the surface.

Learning Java, Good Weekend

Today I am learning Java.  I have put this off long enough.   I used to pick up new programming languages all the time, but recently, I've been a bit lazy about it.   Since I will need to be well versed in this in about one week, now's the time to start... Or maybe that was earlier.

This past weekend was fun.  Margaret stay over Saturday night and Madeline's friend Amanda Painter came down to stay over Sunday Night.   We went to Tung Lee's house on Saturday night for a mini-barbecue.  It was finally nice out, so Tung's husband, Alan cooked skewered meats on their deck.  On Sunday, I made a big breakfast for Margaret, Madeline, and Sarenna:  My mom's thin-style pancakes, scrambled eggs with tomatoes, turkey bacon, and fresh coffee.  Sunday afternoon we stopped by the JP local bookstore for a jazz jam session run by Sarenna's father John Stein.  He is sucessful jazz musician and music professor.  He  plays with the John Stein Trio.

By the way, today is Monday.  Margaret's last day of radiation!  She finished six weeks of daily treatments.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

First Day With No Jacket

Today is the first day in 2006 that I have left the house without
bringing a jacket. As you can see from my handy weather thingy in the
sidebar, it's over 50 degrees F today!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Should This Blog Get Serious?

Should I post anything important in my blog? For now, it is a bit of a playground. I'd like to keep it that way. I figure I have about 5 readers... Each of them leaves comments occasionally... Hello, Bella, Anda, Jaime, Maddy, and Matti! I think that's about it for fans!

This has been a tough week. I have been struggling to keep with school work and life and sleep all at the same time. Usually sleep suffers the most. Personsal life suffers the second most. School work/research seems to get the most atttention. It seems that I am taking my priorities in the wrong order.

Today, I turned in an abstract for a paper at the International Astonautical Congress, October 2-6, 2006 in Valencia, Spain. The abstract may have been a bit over ambitious in it's claims. I have to actually accomplish what I put in the abstract. I really believe I can do it, with hard work. My advisor told me that if I really get all of the stuff done that I claimed I would do, it would be enough of an accomplishment to award me a PhD (well, that and Generals Exams, Disseration, and the Dissertation Defense...). I hope he really means it. Not only will I have completed the hard part of my PhD, I will get a trip to Spain to present my work... These are the fringe benfits of living on a graduate stipend. I just hope they have donut burgers in Valencia.

Want to Lose Weight?

Try the Donut Burger! A hamburger topped with cheddar cheese and two slices of bacon, in between two halfs of a krispy kreme glazed donut! CRAZY DELICIOUS!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Back from Virginia

Bill Isabella Bob Patrick
I just got back from visiting my family in Arlington, Virginia, which includes my crazy nephew Patrick and brand new niece Isabella. Isabella was baptised on Saturday as Isabella Louise Schulz. Patrick, who is hanging upside down, had a nice time too! My brother Bob is guy on the right who is right side up.