25 June 2007

Hello, Wisconsin!

I was back in Wisconsin this weekend and early this week to visit family and friends. I was not there for any special occasion, but my family and I have reached a consensus that Thanksgiving and Christmas are too close together. Visiting for both would make more sense if they were farther apart in the year.

This is my parents' back yard. We planed several of the trees our selves beginning when I was in grade school.
This is my parents' cat Fluffers; she is a domestic longhair with a calico coat. She was also a little camera shy.

22 June 2007

Travel Plans This Weekend

  • June 23, 11:45 am: Fly from CMH to ATW via DTW.
  • June 23, evening: Visit with my paternal grandfather and parents in Appleton, WI.
  • June 23, evening: Ride back to Independence, WI with my parents
  • June 23-26: Visit with friends and family in Independence.
  • June 26, 12:38 pm: Fly from EAU to CMH via MSP.

18 June 2007

My First Journal Article!

Two postdoctoral researches and I have been working on this analysis since Dec. 2005. We have submitted this article for publication and are currently responding to questions, comments, and criticism from the journal reviewers.

This will be my first peer-reviewed publication, which is an important milestone in my scientific career.

Stargazing at the 2006 Retreat

I realized that I omitted one important highlight from my entry about the 2006 Stanford IV Grad Fall Retreat, primarily because I did not have any photographs of it. The highlight was a tour of the constellations of the night sky that I gave to the other participants in the retreat. I have given such tours on many retreats, weather permitting.

One of the disadvantages of living in a city is the negative effect artificial lights have on our ability to see the stars, especially faint ones. We have gained the ability to work, play, and travel 24 hours a day, but we have paid with the sky. I cannot remember the last time I saw the night sky unaffected by some kind of artificial light. I am not sure if I ever have.

Most retreat locations are in rural areas, so they offer significantly less light pollution than major cities, which I why I give these tours on retreats. On this particular night, we had some artificial light pollution from some of the cabins, but nothing as bad as street lights. The weather was not completely cooperative because a thin haze obscured some stars, but the sky was still far better than the one seen from my apartment.

It has been so long that I cannot remember exactly which constellations we saw, but I do remember quite a few wise cracks from my audience as we were on our backs on a basketball court looking up at the stars. At first, I was a little upset by this because I thought it meant they did not appreciate my tour, but I realized that they were simply having fun. They enjoyed the tour and managed to add a few laughs. Also, I may have encouraged the comedy because, as one of my friends said, "You are really good at playing the straight man." That is true.

I also lead a group stargazing in at the most recent CGSA retreat at a Boy Scout Camp in the suburbs of Toledo. Despite the light pollution from the city, we managed to see three planets (stunningly bright Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn) and several constellations including Leo, half of Scorpio, both Dippers, and Draco. A few or the bright stars we saw included Vega, Polaris, and Antares. At one point, I had several people on the tour arranged into a crude model of the solar system to show where the visible planets were in relation to Earth.

An unexpected bonus was a meteor that streaked almost directly overhead across more than half the visible sky. For a brief moment as it was incinerated by friction with the atmosphere, it appeared brighter than Venus. I will probably write more about this retreat in a later entry.

16 June 2007


On May 26, 2007, I was privileged to be a witness of a rare and disturbing apparition of the supernatural known as a Zombie Walk.

Above, we see the hoard of zombies gathering, although at this stage, the few zombies had arrived compared with the number of spectators who had already gathered.

This is the leader of the hoard. I apologize for some of these photographs being blurry our out of focus. Photographic perfection is rather difficult to achieve when one is trying to protect one's brain from a pack of hungry undead zombies!

This is, without doubt, the strangest context in which I have seen Romans 6:23.

Below, we see the hoard marching out of Franklin Park to terrorize the city of Columbus.

More photographs from their rampage can be found here, including a confrontation with two Imperial Storm Troopers. Note, I take no responsibility for the content of sites beyond my blog; they may contain offensive or inappropriate material in addition to picture of zombies.

15 June 2007

Moving from California to Ohio

Part 5: Arrival in Ohio

I arrived at my new home in Columbus, OH on Jan. 1, 2007, after riding from St. Louis with my new housemate Chris. We stopped at a Wendy's somewhere in Indiana. Since Wendy's is not very common in California, it was the first time I had eaten there in a long while.

Once at my new home, I met my other new housemate Se-Kyung and Chris' Dalmatian Jenny. The four of us share the top floor of a house. My room, as it was before I moved in, is shown below, with Jenny for scale.
The couch is now in the living room, but the chairs are still in my room. The portal on the left remained open for a few months. How it was finally turned into a proper closet will be told in an upcoming entry.

Our landlord Robert manages this house as part of Community Revitalization Associates, LLC. It is one of many efforts he is making to bring spiritual and economic revitalization to the neighborhood of Weinland Park. He lives across the street from us.

Since Ohio State does not pay for graduate student moving expenses, the cheapest way to get my possessions from California back to Ohio was shipping them via UPS and the USPS. I shipped my bicycle, books, clothes that would not fit in my suitcases, and sound system; that says something about my priorities. I either sold, gave away, or threw away all of the furniture, dishes, etc. that I had accumulated in California.

Robert agreed to accept the shipment at his house so he could store them safely until I returned. However, I apparently failed to communicate the magnitude of this shipment.

Since I packed and shipped the boxes in several stages, I never saw them all in one place until I arrived to claim them. I wish I would have taken pictures. They formed a wall about 5 feet (1.5 m) high by 10 feet (3 m) wide. Robert lent me an appliance dolly to haul them across the street to my room. Since the USPS has a discounted media mail rate for books, several of the boxes we filled with nothing but books, which made them rather heavy; a few of them were just slightly below the 70 lb. (31.8 kg) limit.

When I unpacked, I found almost everything was intact, except for a few VHS tapes. I was able to repair them by transplanting the tape from the broken plastic cases into new ones I purchased in Columbus.

14 June 2007

Murder in Weinland Park

I have been hesitant to write about this crime because I did not want to provoke fear or criticism from you. However, I deliberately chose to live here in Weinland Park, knowing the neighborhood's reputation. I want to live the with the integrity and courage to be honest and forthright about my choices.

Kenneth Crawford was murdered by gunshot on April 25, 2007. Initial reports did not confirm his name, but it was revealed shortly after his death. The Dispatch also carried a story. In my apartment we heard several very loud gun shots; they were louder than any I had heard there before. We could see the large assembly of police cars around the crime scene from my bedroom window.

The murderer is still at large.

Before anyone worries about my safety because my apartment is so close to a violent murder scene, I shall remind you that a few blocks from my former apartment on the corner of North 4th Street and 16th Ave, an arsonist killed five students at 64 East 17th Ave. That was in a neighborhood considered much "safer" than Weinland Park. I passed the charred shell of that house whenever I walked to campus during my first few months in Columbus. As far as I know, the murderer is still at large.

"Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil."

07 June 2007

Moving from California to Ohio

Part 3: Christmas in Wisconsin

In my family, Christmas celebrations are more concerned with vi sting extended family and feasting than they are about celebrating Christ. I am not sure how to respond to this.
Since my parents gave me a camera as a High School graduation present in 1999, one of our family's Christmas traditions has been a photograph of our tree illuminated only by its lights. The 2006 edition is shown above. That camera is one of the best presents I have ever received.

As you can imagine, even a tree as well-decorated as ours does not emit much light. Capturing this image on film requires a tripod and 6-8 seconds of exposure. It also requires all the other sources of light in the house to be extinguished or blocked. I think the effort is worthwhile.

An unexpected bonus in this photograph is seen to the right of the tree just below the clock. Above is an enlarged version of that section of the photograph. In the oval frame is a photograph of my sister Crystal and I when we were much younger.

My family traditionally has two Christmas parties. One is a small gathering of our immediate family on Christmas Eve; the other is a larger gathering of our extended family on Christmas Day.

This is my sister Crystal next to our Christmas tree. You can see her high-school graduation picture on the wall on the right-hand side of the photograph.

In our Christmas Eve gathering, we were joined by

my Aunt Marie
and my Uncle Roland and Aunt Heidi.

This post is out of order because one of the presents my parents received for Christmas is a digital camera. My mother took several pictures with it during my stay with my family for Christmas of 2006; many of them are included in this entry. I could not complete this entry without those pictures, which Crystal sent to me by e-mail recently.

Another present my parents received is the Santa Claus doll photographed at left. You may notice that he is striking a rather unusual pose; that is because this is no ordinary representation of Father Christmas. When one pushes a button at the doll's base, this Santa gyrates and dances while singing "Are You Ready for This?"

For proof, play the video below.

This may seem like a strange or inappropriate way to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but it was not my idea!
Many people have used many words to describe me; photogenic is not one of them.

As is also traditional in our family, I played Santa by delivering the presents from under the tree. I did not receive many gifts because I had warned my family that I would not have much room in my suitcases. Despite this warning, I still had to leave a few presents behind, such as a large jug of hand soap. The presents I did have room to pack include a collection of 50 sci-fi films on 12 DVDs, several hand towels, and a set of kitchen utensils. I have not made time to watch most of the movies, but the utensils have been useful on a daily basis.

Now, we move on to the Christmas Day gathering of my extended family. My maternal grandmother and her husband were this year's hosts. In this photograph I am talking with my three of my cousins, two of whom are from Arizona.

In the lower left corner of this photograph is my grand-aunt Florence. She is my maternal grandmother's sister. This was her last Christmas on Earth; she died early in the morning of June 4, 2007. Next to her is her sister Doris; partially obscured by the chair is her daughter Juanita.

My step-grandfather Louis is in on the right, and another cousin from Arizona is on the left.

Both Christmas gatherings involved large quantities of very good food. Roast Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, fruit salad, stuffing, and a host of dishes and drinks so delicious that remembering them still makes me salivate. I spent a good deal of time listening to stories of my relatives lives, including one who recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq. Since I had not seen many of them since the previous Christmas, I also spent much time telling them about my research, friends, and experiences in California.

While in Independence, which is my hometown and where my parents still live, I took the opportunity to visit the family of a friend I have known since high school.

I did not bring my film camera on the visit, so this is how Vanessa and Brian look when photographed by my mobile phone camera.

Vi sting and playing with their children was very fun because they are very playful, affectionate,
and cute,
most of the time.

To conclude this Christmas celebration, I introduce you to Savannah, new daughter of one of my sister's high school classmates.

03 June 2007

Practical Benefits of Particle Physics #4

Fostering International Collaboration

The size, cost, and complexity of particle physics detectors and data sets often requires the collaboration of multiple nations from around the world. Ideally, this means that scientists will sometimes learn to cooperate and communicate more effectively than their governments.
  • Though not strictly a particle physics experiment, the SESAME light source uses the same accelerator technology as particle physics. It is located in Jordan, and its users include scientists from Israel, Iran, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and many other nations.
  • At one time, when I was a resident of the office that the Ohio State BaBar group shares with Colorado State, the other residents included students and postdoctoral researches from Israel, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Italy. The experiment is sponsored by ten nations and includes scientists from many more.
  • The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is an international scientific enterprise many times the size of BaBar. Symmetry magazine notes that more "than 7000 scientists from 85-plus countries are involved in the LHC collider and its six experiments at the European laboratory CERN. They include some 750 scientists from US universities and national laboratories"

Question for the Governor

A story in The Lantern, Ohio State's student newspaper, covered the visit by Governor Strickland and two state representatives to a Town Hall meeting organized by the OSU College Democrats on May 14, 2007. I was surprised that the lecture hall was only roughly half full, but the event has not been well advertised; I only read about it less than 12 hours before it occurred. State Representatives Tracy Heard and Dan Stewart also spoke and answered questions. I live in Representative Heard's district.

I will not repeat what The Lantern has already covered. However, it did not print my question or the answers it garnered. In their speeches the governor and legislators spoke about the need to develop alternative energies, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and reduce our production of greenhouse gasses. In response to this, I asked what policies or strategies they had for making the streets safer for those of us who ride bicycles. I held my bicycle helmet in the air as I asked the question.

The Governor answered by talking about better educating and enforcing laws upon drivers to keep bicycles safe. He also said that he was planning to use some sort of federal bond money to buy more buses with bicycle racks for central Ohio. Representatives Heard and Stewart spoke about the need for a "culture shift" away from individuals in cars to use of mass transit and other alternative forms of transportation, such as bicycles.

Rep. Heard reminded me that such issues are largely local and that the mayor and city council might be good places to start advocating for bicyclists. Rep. Steward explained that he was an avid bicyclist until a recent back injury. He also said that while neighboring states, such as Pennsylvania, spend $30-50 per person on mass transit, Ohio spends only $1.50. That explains a lot. In a more humorous moment, he said that alternative transportation needed a song like, "She Thinks my Bus is Sexy." The Governor responded, "Did you say bus?"

As the Dispatch article reported, Rep. Heard spoke about the need for enforceable sexual predator laws. She explained that this issue particularly concerned her because of the high density of registered sex offenders in her district. Indeed, I discovered a surprising number in my neighborhood.

When the governor discussed the recent shootings at Virginia Tech, he brought a surprising amount of personal experience to the issue. Apparently, he was formerly a mental health counselor in charge of decided whether people should be forcibly committed. He told several stories of his encounters with the mentally ill. He reached two conclusions. First, this nation needs more effective mental health treatment for people like the shooter. Second, in a free society, we can never be totally safe. I agree.

Overall, I was impressed with my state representative. Though he seemed tired, the Governor impressed me by actually appearing and engaging students. Rep. Heard was extremely articulate, and she seemed thoughtful and experienced, despite having been elected to the post only last November. She also seemed to be the least partisan of the three speakers, which I appreciated.

02 June 2007

Five Dollars

My favorite reverse is on the lower left.
I suppose you could call this deflation.