I flew down to University of Oregon (Eugene) today to give a seminar and talk about ATLAS. This was my kind of trip: even though it involved a plane ride, my hair was will wet from my morning shower by the time I was in the physics building. And their physics building is very cool -- on the outside they've got several gargoyles -- including on of Einstein sticking out his tongue! And on the floor of the physics building they have a Drell-Yan production process (see the photos by clicking through). And the talk was a lot of fun. I was scheduled for 50 minutes but went on for 75 -- lots of good questions.
I didn't know that Animal House was filmed here. The frat house has been torn down because... it was a mess. But other buildings are recognizable. Sadly, my stay was relatively boring!
On Monday an article appeared in the NYTimes with this quote:
"The story most people around the world have is that the Americans are up to their old tricks -- committing atrocities and lying about it," Mr. Pike said. "And that's completely correct."
This was about the whole use of Phosphorus in Falluja -- it has been brought up by the Italian documentary (which has many logical holes in it -- how do you burn a person to death but leave their clothes intact???). But the key to this quote isn't weather or not this particular thing happened -- it is the expectation. "are up to their old tricks" -- up to the things they usually do... since when has America stood for this!!?? Oh.. wait. Crap. I'd like to say "I pity the country this guy is talking about"... but... I live there. It's my home. It needs repair.
And then this quote, pulled from the Economist Nov 12 issue (sorry, I couldn't get a web link for this):
All in all, Punkin Chunkin is a symbol of what makes America great. Only in the richest country on earth could regular guys spend tens of thousands of dollars building a pumpkin gun. Only in a nation with such a find tradition of inventiveness, not to mention martial prowess, would so many choose to. And only in a land of wide open spaces would they be able to practice their chunkin without killing their neighbors.
(The goal, if you've not figured it out, was who could shoot a pumkin the furthest -- some of the guns had barrels 150 ft long!). Perhaps there is hope for us, yet.
All spelling mistakes in transcribing from the articles are mine!!!! Mine!!!!
We went to the SFMOMA this afternoon. I was sitting at the lobby waiting for Paula and her Mom at the end of the visit. There was a large Filipino wedding reception that was going to occur after the museum closed; and huge crowds of formally dressed people were gathering. Cameras were going off everywhere. One large group assembled and grabbed one of the regular museum visitors to get a picture of them.
But then it got a little confusing. The actually put the guy in the picture. And everyone wanted their camera used. So the poor guy had to pose about 8 times. I was totally baffled. These people in San Francisco are weird!
About that time is when the people sitting next to me said "Hey, that is Robin Williams!". It was, and it was totally unmistakably him. I was just oblivious. :-) He was gone before I could whip out my camera...
The Chuck Close self portrait exhibit just made me want to print some of my pictures at such a grand scale.
It isn't that I run out of things to post the to blog that slows me down. It is that I get hung up on a stupid problem at work. And I can't see taking time to post (or much else) until the stupid problem is fixed. By stupid, here, I don't mean that it is easy or hard -- just that it has nothing to do with physics. A stupid problem is one of those problems that you are stuck on because you decided to approach a really important problem slightly differently... and you thought it would be quicker and cooler in the end.
When was the last time you had to look at assembly language? The language that the CPU your computer is actually running on is using? Not the high fly, wine-drinking C++/Java/C that most people in the world write in? Last time for me was undergraduate. I had to write this @&#&^@ interrupt driven assembly language file copy program. For those of you that don't remember what this crap looks like here is a sample:
004149BF mov esi,esp
004149C1 push offset string "" (41A0C8h)
004149C6 mov eax,dword ptr [tin_one]
004149C9 mov edx,dword ptr [eax]
004149CB mov ecx,dword ptr [tin_one]
004149CE call dword ptr [edx+9Ch]
004149D4 cmp esi,esp
004149D6 call @ILT+700(__RTC_CheckEsp) (4112C1h)
It turned out that +9Ch was the key to the problem. But it was two days down the toilet. Grrr.
P.S. Details, ugly details: The problem was that the TInterpreter object was defined differently when it was built and when you built against it; so memory layout wasn't consistent.
At 9am this morning Paula and her Mom were eating breakfast at The Grove, a SF eatery close to our hotel. I was fast asleep in the hotel room. It is now 9:30 pm. I'm at the Grove having a beer and Paula and her Mom are fast asleep back in their hotel rooms.
And I know I'm in Seattle because there is a guy sitting by himself next to me listening to an IPod Nano. The bar, btw, is blaring music pretty loudly as well.
I'm in San Francisco for a few days of not working (yeah, right). There are 25 wireless networks visible to my computer! Including things like "Lombard Swingers" (this is SF, baby!), and "giggle". Of course, the only one not visible is the Hotel's free wireless network.
I just started getting my bank statements from France, and I notice that Marseille finished paying me for my stay over the summer. On October 27th!
I didn't spend any of that cash while I was in France (heck, I didn't have it!). So, it's burning a hole in my pocket now. A big screen plasma TV? Down payment on a new car? A few more computers for the condo? Save it (ha!)? Ahhh, the possibilities are endless. Probably forget about it, and it will sit in the account for years and depreciate away to a really nice bottle of Dr. Pepper!
The University of Washington has been involved with ATLAS for years now. The primary production activity has been the construction of about 1/3 of the forward muon chambers. This process took over 3 years of production work to build, and several more years of design work. About a year ago we had shipped over all of the chambers to CERN; we were done here at UW. But once at CERN there was a lot of work that had to be done -- leak testing, connecting & checking the electronics, etc. But, finally, the first chamber was mounted in ATLAS. The chamber's name is EIL4_A13 -- and you can see it there, inside ATLAS, mounted (there are a few other pictures if you click through). There was a party afterward. If you have quicktime installed and want to see a bunch of physicists drinking a champagne out of plastic cups, click here.
When the do-not-call list came out, I immediately signed up. It was great. The number of calls really dropped off. But over the last two weeks Paula and I've been getting an increasing number of sales calls. Sometimes they come as late as 9pm. I've already gotten two today. And none of these do I recognize as having ordered from previously. I hope this is just a pre-shopping season run up and it soon returns to normal. I hate these things!