Confused at a higher level

The view from Carleton College's physics department

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Logging Today

Posted by Arjendu on December 11, 2007

So, let’s see what I did today, for example:

School’s out at the moment: We have a term system with 10-week terms (quarters), the Fall term’s over, and this gives us a long break from Thanksgiving through New Years. It makes for a very nice period of more introspective work.

Over morning coffee I scanned some of the blogs I and news-feeds I read through Google reader (more references later) and also got started on David Brooks’ ‘Bobos in Paradise’ — got through a half-dozen pages. I am reading it because it might be useful as a reading for Cross-Cultural Studies, if I ever teach it again. It’s been fun teaching that course — Cross-Cultural Studies has bought me out in the past by paying for a single course replacement, but this isn’t something the Physics and Astronomy Department can usefully deploy every year. So things on this are always iffy. But still, having taught it twice now, I have it ticking away on the back-burner at all times, mostly an excuse to organize some of my reading on culture and sociology.

I ran a few miles in the morning, because I’ve always known, but now accept, and have started to act on, the fact that the more I exercise the better I do. The thing about being at a small college is that I’ve had quite a few useful work-related conversations while sweating it at the gym. Not today, though. After exercise, I went to my favorite cafe, which doubles as Northfield’s informal Faculty Lounge (for Carleton and St. Olaf, and the Macalester folks who live in town, for example) and got started modifying a small proposal to the American Physical Society. This is to ask for funds so that my Cameroonian friend Anatole, who is currently in Europe, can come here so we can continue to collaborate on transport issues (ratchets in particular) in nonlinear quantum and classical systems.

It’s not a lot of money that we are asking for, but it would be useful, but always, one of the main benefits of proposal-writing to me is getting my thoughts on a project’s plan of attack, for example, organized. Our last paper (in collaboration with Jiang-bin who lives in Singapore) got very nice reviews, which also pointed out that our arguments weren’t *quite* complete, at Physical Review Letters, and we are waiting for them to get back to us on the revisions we have made. But any decent paper of mine generates multiple questions in my head, and I’d really like to get some good one-on-one time with Anatole to get going on some of those.

I also ran into two colleagues/friends: DJ, from Carleton’s Office of Intercultural Life (we talked about Carleton’s Posse program a bit) and Adrienne, from Sociology/Anthropology (we talked about the dynamics of various departments around campus and about an upcoming workshop on writing about/with numbers that we are both attending).

Finally got to campus, and with my Chemistry colleague and close friend Dani completed formalities for registration for a workshop on increasing diversity in the sciences that we are both going to attend in January in the DC area.

Then I got to grab lunch — ran into Carol from the Writing Program, we talked about the writing workshop and about the ongoing accreditation exercise in which Carleton’s participating. It’s a weird and interesting process, I am still not quite sure what it’s about.

I took the afternoon off, but after dinner, having caught up with more administriva emails, am reading some of my favorite science blogs. For example, Philip Ball’s blog, which I discovered a couple of days ago.

And so the day goes.

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