Commentary on the Peer Review Process

December 9, 2009

Ah peer review…

Just in case there is confusion about why Hitler is appearing on the blog, please consult our newest blogroll member, Know Your Meme.  They did a wonderful job explaining Autotune to my parents over the Thanksgiving weekend (featuring Weird Al!).

Less is Enough?

March 2, 2009

Just read a news story about a blogger who is trying to get by eating fresh and healthy food but spend no mare than a dollar a day for thirty days.  The blog is called “Less is Enough” and it appears as if there’s a little bit of wiggle room in terms of several days budget can be spent at once.  Given portion sizes in the U.S. and the inability to buy one egg (or one rib for that matter) I don’t think that’s unreasonable.  The blogger started off with an empty pantry and has so far made it through twenty days.  I don’t think I would have mentioned it, but she includes pictures of her food and some of the meals looks marvelous, including the Idaho Sunrise:

Cheap and tasty looking meal

Cheap and tasty looking meal -- The Idaho Sunrise

Basically it’s a twice-baked potato with an egg on top.  Maybe I’m just hungry (though I had a chili cheese burger prepared by one of the few cooks in the EPA cafeteria who braved yet another snowy day) but it definitely looks filling and cheap as all get out.  Good eats?  I’ll have to find out.

At any rate, I’ve added Less is Enough to the blog roll…

What happened to John?

June 24, 2008

Hi everyone. I’m still alive and life has been interesting. Ann and I bought a house that we’ll move into in August, but in the mean time we’re packing up and heading to an apartment in Chapel Hill. The lease on our rental house is up at the end of the month and the crummy owners wanted to get it on the market so as not to miss out on those oh-so-common July renters rather than give us an extension of less than a year.

In addition to that fun, I’ve been to both Huntsville and Jacksonville briefly and watched one of my EPA mentors head off for industry.

Finally, on Sunday night, as we were driving into RTP to get some paperwork for the next morning’s mortgage signing, we got caught in a freak rain storm that caused puddles to form on Martin Luther King Parkway (a newly built, divided four lane road). The first puddle was fine (I was going less than 20 MPH so we didn’t even hydroplane) but the second one was two to three feet deep and as we plunged in my engine cut out and still hasn’t restarted. The water was most of the way up the passenger door and we were stuck for a good fifteen minutes or so before the water drained and we could push the car off the road (with the welcome help of some samaritans).

Fortunately, Andy’s googling and Mary’s dashing rescue allowed us to get out of the lightning and retrieve the needed papers in time for the morning.  Unfortunately, I may have totaled my relatively new, unpaid-off car. Oh, why couldn’t we have hydroplaned over that puddle? (Feel free to discuss the physics of that, or lack thereof, in the comments section.) In the meantime I am driving a rental pick-up truck — you should have seen the rental agent’s draw drop when I asked for one — in order to help with moving. For some reason everyone wants a compact right now. All I know is I’ve already ordered my “W – The President” bumper sticker.

In the meantime, I have a great story on how two ball boys saved Michigan’s undefeated season in 1997 as well as a nominee for the blog roll:

It’s like crack for anyone who likes graphs, statistics or politics (a triple-whammy for me). Also in the intersection of cool graphs and politics is Presidential Watch 08, which has great tools for plotting the political blogosphere as well as trends. Without these very impressive analyses, would we have ever been able to tell that Fox news leans Republican?

Finally, if you can show that playing Minesweeper is NP-complete, you can win a million dollars

Carolina “Classic”

April 26, 2008

There are some things about North Carolina almost everyone knows, such as tobacco, basketball, and NASCAR. Then there are things that you only learn if you live here for a while; e.g. coleslaw is a condiment.

That’s right, any self-respecting North Carolinian restaurant serves a tiny cup of coleslaw on the side with every sandwich (and many other orders) so that you can put it on your sandwich if you care to. It actually works quite well because the cole slaw here is the best I’ve ever had: unlike its Midwestern brethren it contains only a bit of mayonnaise, and unlike the local barbecue it’s light on the vinegar.

Coleslaw features prominently in Carolina-style burgers, which also have chili, chopped onion, and mustard. Even Wendy’s has a fast-food version that is sold regionally. Apparently there is some sort of difference between coleslaw and “slaw,” but either way I find them to be delicious.

Another, more interesting North Carolina “quirk” has to do with how I’ve used quotation marks in these last two sentences. Read the rest of this entry »

The Physics Arxiv Blog

April 6, 2008

Force chains in a granular silo... In the physics community it is common practice to submit “finished,” but not yet peer-reviewed, research papers to a preprint server so that they become time-stamped (useful for establishing credit) and freely available to the public. Often, once a paper is revised in response to peer-review and published, a “preprint” copy of the final version is placed on the server so that copies can easily be obtained without tracking down whatever journal it was published in (something that has gotten vastly easier thanks to Google Scholar). The arXiv preprint server started in 1991 at Los Alamos (where it had the dubious-sounding address of since the Web was not yet especially World-Wide) and now hosts papers in physics, mathematics, computer science, and quantitative biology. Anyone who wants may subscribe to have a listing of all the new and updated papers on a given topic regularly sent via e-mail. For me, at least, scanning through the daily cond-mat listing is one of the main ways I try to stay current in my field.

The newest addition to our blogroll is a very cool idea — The Physics Arxiv blog. The author combs through the daily update emails and writes about the interesting papers they see and you’ll never guess how I stumbled across it. Sometimes papers on arXiv are kinda crazy and take a long time to get published (if ever). Sometimes research is happening so quickly that entire research groups dictate what they do in response to the latest preprint (right Joe?). No matter what it’s a neat blog and a good way to stay current in physics.

The Return of the Joe

March 2, 2008

joe.jpgFellow Duke physics graduate Joe has now started blogging from his current residence in icy Arizona. Check out Handbasket Travel Ventures for the latest and greatest. Also, check out this picture of Jesus riding a dinosaur that I found when I looked under “j” in the My Pictures folder. I’m sure that it’s featured prominently at the Creationist museum:

Music Monday

February 18, 2008

Two quick hits while I ease back into this whole blogging thing:

Thom Yorke on ASCI may have mentioned NPR’s wonderful All Songs Considered podcasts and blog, a main source of new music for me these days. This week, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke takes over the half-hour show to talk about his influences and favorite music. Fans should check it out.

Also, I’m adding a new blog to the roll. WNYC’s fantastic Radio Lab program has started a blog that meshes well with our own: science, music, and society. I encourage you to listen to the file in the entry entitled “Our Podcast comes in all shapes and sizes”.