Thursday, May 29, 2008

Going Dark for a While

I'll be out of contact with... well, the entire world for a few days.

I'm going to be riding a really kick-ass boat for a short stretch and will not have email, cell, snail mail, nor telepathic communications available with the outside world until I get back.

So, until then, here's hoping the Wings don't blow it, the Israelis make peace with the Muslim world, we get good data, and other good things happen.

For your enjoyment whilst I'm gone:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Goalies Dive, Captains Shouldn't

Pittsburgh has spent a considerable amount of energy complaining about the evil Red Wings and their nefarious diving. For a team who is captained by someone widely regarded as the first lady of the Canadian Theatre, they might want to keep their mouths shut.

Mostly, they are focused on the two goaltender interference calls from Game 2 in which they are adamant that their players did nothing wrong and Osgood gave Oscar caliber performances.

The first penalty (sorry, can't find a video), there was no dive. Period. Nor was the Pens player (Malone) pushed. He just picked a really, really stupid time to take a run at the goalie in the crease and is looking for cover (and his coach, for some insane reason, is helping him make excuses).

The second penalty, Osgood was clearly embellishing. But Sykora should NEVER have been putting his shoulder into him behind the net. I don't care how frustrated you are, you don't do that. The puck wasn't even in the vicinity. Sykora did something stupid and Osgood made sure the Refs saw it. Should he have gone down like that? No. But Sykora should not have made himself vulnerable to a penalty like that with absolutely no possible change of any kind of favorable result for his team. He was selfishly blowing off steam at a goalie that had (at the time) shut out his team for nearly 2 games.

These actions, along with the sucker punches into Franzen's head (his first game back from concussion-like symptoms) illustrate that the is a Penguins team that doesn't really know what's going on or how to change it (I hope so anyway). I think that they a guilty of buying into their own hype (well, the NHL's hype regarding their team).

Tonight's game in Pittsburgh will be very telling. They get the match-ups they want and their home fans. Obviously it's a must-win for them to make it an entertaining series. They have the talent to pull of the upset, but they have to stop making excuses, work harder, and not be as stupid. Unless they have some brilliant, Machiavellian PR campaign of deception going on, they lack the proper leadership at both the Head Coach and Captain levels.

That's entirely fine with me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lions Fail to Measure Up

This tape measure has been hanging around in the lab longer than I have been, which is impressive since the I've been with the group nearly as long as we have had this space.

(Wait. What, really? Sob.)

No one will fess up to owning it so it just hangs around and get used from time to time.

I really do love it though because it points out something very fundamental about the Lions as an organization, and that is their utter lack of attention to detail. Personally, if I were the licensing director for an NFL franchise deciding what to put my team's logo on, and a tape measure came along, I would make damn sure that the thing could go 10 yards. Our tape measure? 25 feet.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Chipmunk Carnage

Well, this post was originally to be titled "Chipmunk Hattrick" in honor of Ophelia's three chipmunk kills yesterday, but today she added a 4th, which is starting to get out of hand.

I'm not real happy with the local chipmunk population which has, in the four years we've been living in the neighborhood: chewed their way into our soffit and run around the attic for all hours of the night, chewed through two sets of venturi tubes and one set of hoses on the gas grill, chewed holes in my air filter in my old car, stashed a bumper crop of acorns in the engine of my wife's current car, and... well, that's about all I can think of at the moment. But that's a lot of stuff. But even I am beginning to think that the cat has gone far enough.

The progression of our reactions to chipmunk slaughter went roughly as such:

1st Death:
"What does she have?! Don't let her take it inside!"
(Sliding door slams shut.)
"That's so cute."
"Good kitty."
"Good kitty."
"Go get the camera."

2nd Death:
"Holy crap! She has another one!"
"Look at her go!"
(Sliding door slams shut.)
"Is it still alive?"
"No... well, yes, sort of."

3rd Death:
(Feminine scream)
"What? No way!"
(Sliding door slams shut.)
"She put it down, bring her in."
"I think it's still alive."
"Yeah, it's recovering. Chase it off the deck"
(Sliding door open and closes.)
"I scared it off. I don't see it any more."
"Is it gone?"
"I guess. I don't see it anymore."
(Next Morning.)
(Feminine scream)

"It's still on the deck! It didn't go away."
"I'll get it."
(Sliding door opens and closes.)
"Did you get it?"
"No it went and hid in the rail again. I see where it went this time."
(Live trap is fetched.)
"Give it time to come out. It's way back in there."
"Can the kitty go out?"
"I guess. She can't possibly reach it there."
(Five minutes pass.)
(Feminine scream)

"She got it! She got it out!"
"Is it still alive? Take it away from her."
"No, it's dead."

4th death:
"You're kidding."
(Sliding door slams shut.)
"She stays in now."
"Here comes the neighbor cat."
"Good. Maybe he's hungry... There's such a thing as too much excellence, you know, kitty!"

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wings Win Anyway

Well, the Wings ended up trouncing the Pens 4-0 anyway, with the Pens' best player being O’Halloran. They get a night off before they go up against the 10-man unit that I am thinking of terming the Pengurees (3 forwards, 2 defencemen, 1 goaltender, 2 linesmen, 2 referees).

Stupid NHL.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

NHL Credibility

The first game of the Stanley Cup Finals is at the 1st intermission.

I knew that the league desperately wants the Penguins to win this, for some strange reason I thought they'd still call the games somewhat fairly.

Instead we're getting chinsy penalties against the Wings and a goal waved off for no identifiable reason whatsoever.

I'm not sure why I should watch my team get tossed under the train so that the League's idea of the second coming of Gretsky/Jesus can hoist a cup before he's actually earned it.

As usual, the NHL is shooting itself in the foot. I'm pretty sure Bettman is still on te NBA's payroll. For the Wings to win this, they'll have to be not just the best team, but better by a wide margin to overcome the officiating.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tribute to Chris Pronger

Here's a site where you can write your own (PG-13) tribute to Chris Pronger. The spelling here is even worse than mine, but it's still fun.

See if you can spot the Sarcastic Weasel's Yahoo pseudonym.

China Quake

In case you're living under a rock, ridiculously powerful earthquake hit Sichuan province in China yesterday. The quake was recorded as a magnitude 7.9, which is simply absurdly powerful. Not only does the peak acceleration increase on a log10 scale as the Richter magnitude increases (energy increases are even more dramatic) , but the original equipment used to define the Richter scale doesn't even function properly during quakes this large. Alternative scales are more rigorous, but the general public is familiar with Richter magnitude so some extrapolation work-arounds have been developed.

Modern earthquake engineering codes require structures to be designed to withstand (at minimum) earthquakes that, based on statistical analysis of nearby faults and by physical models of the surrounding terrain, are expected to occur every 50 years. More important facilities that are expected to be full of people (e.g. schools, stadiums, etc.) are designed with an enhanced factor of safety and critical response facilities (e.g. command and control, hospitals, etc.) have a safety factor that is higher still. However, in areas with poor oversight of building, many old buildings, or inexperienced engineers/builders, structures may not meet these requirements. I'm not aware (yet) as to what expected return period this particular earthquake had, but my suspicion is that, if it wasn't larger than the 50-year quake, it was right near the raggedy edge.

With such a powerful quake hitting a densely populated area, I should be prepared for reports of massive casualties. Still, watching the news report last night of parents dig through the collapsed rubble of a 3-story girls' school looking for 900 missing children caused even my black, ironic heart to break.

It is in times like these that one tends to reflect. I am the beneficiary of (a small number of) research dollars from a larger pool directed at advancing the robustness and reliability of our civil structural systems. Am I putting that funding to it's best, use? I don't have the answer for that right now. As a Ph.D. candidate, the question is rather moot; I am not terribly empowered to select the precise course of my research endeavors, but soon enough I will graduate and gain a much larger degree of autonomy. How do I strike a balance between work that is sexy and fun (and fundable) and work that genuinely protects lives? How much overlap is there between those categories? What is the proper balance between big, pure research projects and more practical endeavors that are, perhaps less ambitious, but might have a greater chance of producing concrete results? Those are too big of questions for one morning or one blog entry. Something to ponder...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Profile Update

Decided to update my profile stuff... add in my favorite books, movies, etc.

Now, all of the sudden, I can click on something that I like and get links to 1300 people who like it too. Dangerous...

I can't believe no one else put Juang's Applied System Identification in their "favorite books" list. It's so elegantly written. Sheesh.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Warm Fuzzies

Old PBF, brightened my day.

Job Well Done (I hope)

Sorry not to be blogging much lately. I've been traveling in support of the SeaFighter project. Also, I'm dead tired and had a beer on an empty stomach... sorry if I ramble a bit. Just finished 3 1/2 days of instrumentation. It was actually difficult and physical. What the hell, man? I'm supposed to be a squishy engineering grad student nerd, not an active guy climbing around running cables. This project will represent our most ambitious instrumentation project to date (so why was I the only one sent to do it!?!).

Everything is installed though, and just in time, I'm flying home tomorrow (God, I hope it runs well). Got to spend the past few days in Panama City, FL. Don't know what to say about it other than if you've seen one gulf coast city, you've seen then all. Good (fried) seafood. Touristy as hell. Near the naval support facility it's a little seedy. Last time I came down, the hotel conference room was full of Hooters girls and prospective employees. I thought to myself, "Hey, I didn't know Hooters had conferences." Then I thought, "Suddenly the IMAC conference doesn't seem so great." It seems though, that they were just recruiting for a new location adjacent to the hotel. This trip, I happened to arrive on the opening day. What is my adviser thinking? It's currently the off-season for tourists, so things haven't been so crowded... until tonigh anyway when the hotel seems to be hosting a group of extremely young looking Naval cadets as well as a large contingent of gymnasts... seamen and gymnasts... gymnasts and seamen... make your own joke here.

Anyway, as a follow-up to the survival-at-sea post, I've learned how to survive in port anyway. First of all, when your job inherently involves making the crew's jobs more difficult, you've got a tricky situation. When your job is to place sensitive and fragile electronics on the decks in high traffic areas and then leave them unguarded for a few weeks, you really want to avoid pissing people off. Keeping your work area clean is a big part of that. In my lab, I let mess accumulate, drop wire, insulation, other stuff all over. On the boat, I picked up every last scrap of rubbish I generated. I spent an extra day routing cables as to be out of the way and, generally, look neat. I also taped the living hell out of the cables and wires that ran along the deck. I can't make it good for them; physics and my boss tell me where the sensors must go, but I can make it clear that I'm really willing to pretend that I feel bad about the hassle I cause them (yes, pretend, don't be too weak).

Also, apparently sitting watch in port, involves sitting near the door playing PSP and generally ignoring anything that goes on on-board the ship. Maybe I'm misinterpreting things. The boat is parked in a reasonably secure place though.

Looking forward to the trip though... whenever it happens May be able to visit with the Princess (who doesn't seem to generate new posts without considerable harassment... contact me fo her email address if you want to harass her) and SP#5 too.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Color Quiz. Getting Old.

For anyone who hasn't tried the infamous Color Quiz... you can learn all about yourself by clicking on some colored quadrilaterals.

I must admit, I have a minor weak spot for pseudo-scientific crap like personality quizzes, IQ tests... string-theory (very minor). I do understand that, at best, it's generic and baseless escapism, like astrology or fortune-telling or scotch (personally, I find scotch to be the most effective, but one cannot always have scotch and the internet is everywhere).

I took the silly test back in undergrad in Snoughton and was relatively shocked to see how well the results seemed to match how I felt at the time. For fun, since for some odd reason I got up 15 minutes early this morning, I took it again. Oddly, after 8 years or so, I got the same results. Except for now, they don't seem to describe me at all. I guess I can only hold on to adolescent angst for so long.

Want to see my results?

ColorQuiz.comI took the free personality test!

"Longs for tenderness and for a sensitivity of feel..."

Click here to read the rest of the results.

Monday, May 5, 2008


Well, it's May, so it's time for San Jose Sharks players to hit the links (Thanks, Instigator).

I'll try to have a recap of the first two rounds of the playoffs and some thoughts about the Wings' chances in the next round before Round 3 actually starts. Real busy right now. My bracket, of course, is in the toilet. Everyone who was participating in this particular contest is in the same boat though: no more points possible given who's in and who's not. ATZ wins with 9 points, Ish and SW tie at 8 points (tie-breaker will not be settled for a while yet) with the Official Wife of S.W. only slightly behind with 7 points. As a group, I might consider this our closest (and possibly worst) year yet. As is typical, the person paying the least attention to the regular season posted the best post-season results (though I really should deduct points for picking Colorado in Round 2 since I'm pretty sure the Wings were playing against the Av's minor-league affiliate).