This blog has gone on (permanent) hiatus. Thanks for the ride :)

(I will defend my research work on December 7th, complete my last exam in physics on February 17th, and from February-July follow a semester program in history and philosophy of science at a different university.)

Seven Quick Takes

Visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

Visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more quick takes!


<classmate a> *staring at blackboard* WHY? And more importantly, why THAT way? Can’t we just… *writes*
<classmate b, total deadpan> Because then the universe would collapse.
<a> Not that again.
<b> Am afraid so.

Physics. With great power comes great responsibility.

(Also, when you’re googling a definition that came up in class and the first result is “Harmonic analysis of probability measures on hypergroups”, run.)


Speaking of running, I’m trying to get back on the bandwagon. One of my choir mates invited me to race with her sometime, so I need to become better than her get back into shape! So far, so good. I forgot how wonderful it can feel.


Last Monday I needed a bit of comfort, so I put on my ancient jeans, ancient choir tour hoodie, and extremely ancient gym class t-shirt (from my posh private first secondary school – I switched to a state high school soonish, as I was very private but by no means posh enough). My dad, reading the school name on my back, fell over laughing with the comment that most 24-year-olds would be delighted to still fit the clothes from when they were eighteen… let alone twelve.

The reason that this shirt was too big when I first got it, was too big when I was at my biggest (around age 16), and is too big now, is that People Don’t Look. They just hand me the biggest size, and I didn’t speak up about it until I was at university.

It does mean I have a range of very comfortable shirts to sleep in. And I easily layered three sweaters under my girl guide rain jacket, making it a true all-seasons garment that the others could only wish for.

But still, you know, should you ever need to distribute uniform clothing to tall people, do this quick test: stand next to them. Lean aside. Chances are your shoulder will hit hip-bone. In that case, start with medium. We of the 38″-and-up inseam thank you.


My friends rock so much. One of them gave me a tutorial on Familial Relationship Management that mentioned Dirac combs, three humorously mangled figures of speech, and two memes from our friend group. See, I’m not so difficult to communicate with (for people with a physics degree and 4+ years of intimate knowledge of my mind’s workings).


Physics-Medicine mental Babel Tower of the week:

<me> But why would you use a battery pack? You want to have a constant signal, so it would make much more sense to use a power supply.
<lab technician> How often have you blown up an electrical circuit with one of those?
<me> Hey!
<tech> Well?
<me> *sulks* Less than five times…
<tech> Are you going to test this one, with the electrodes glued to your head?


“I’ve got something for you,” said my thesis advisor, as I was staring myself cross-eyed at the whiteboard.


licorice-1 apekoppen“I tried to get a gevulde koek out of the vending machine, but they gave me a bag of monkey-shaped banana liquorice instead. Everyone says you might like it.”

“Who is ‘everyone’?” I asked carefully. “Well, both of The Guys,” advisor replied.

This was a very interesting piece of information, as The Guys know how my body (and temper) reacts to large amounts of colorants and sugar. I’m wondering what their purpose was. Maybe they thought bouncing up and down would help me to write legibly on vertical surfaces.


My new boss is rather cool. He has the free lunch radar and -appreciation of a grad student – and brings some for me! (Admitted, this is in his favour, as bringing caffeine and food to my work station means I stay there for longer and get more work done.) But what really sealed the deal: he has taken an elementary LabVIEW course so he can understand his programmers better. I think anyone who has ever been hired for their expertise can appreciate the effort.

I am still trying to get over the facts that my desk is actually an exam table (I didn’t even notice until yesterday, although I’d appreciated the squishiness) and the anatomy room, where students cut up bodies for practice, is two doors down the hall. Hilarity.

Opening old boxes

Among other things, I found:

-a watch with analogue face plus digital Millenium Countdown Timer
-a “Atlanta Olympics” Flik Flak watch
-a “save 500 guilders and get a free watch” watch (incidentally, they all have blue straps)
-about 12 smaller-than-fist-sized containers (little tins, boxes, etc) filled with what are undoubtedly treasures for a 12-year-old (including a department store coin valid until November 4, 1995, a week before my 11th birthday)
-a disturbing amount of unused soaps, little bags of sugar, and for some strange reason those little things you use to open a can of coke (I am, and have always been, intolerant of fizzy drinks, and my parents didn’t do those things anyway)
-a package of Zuricher honey cookies (exp. 1995)
-assorted candles
-a fake horseshoe magnet, six different types of pencils, colouring pencils, and a compass
-a braid ring knot, scout-scarf sized
-a set of Gypsy fortune telling cards in six languages (none of which I spoke back then)

All stuff that was apparently important enough to throw them in a box and take them to my dad’s when my mum moved to France.

I’m going to burn up the candles, get a new battery for the Atlanta watch (it fits my wrist and it’s cute), put the pencils in my bag, and throw the rest out.

Some Concert Tour Highlights

  1. Accidentally dropped off conductors at a drug rehab centre.
  2. Got conductors nearly kidnapped by scary Dublin B&B lady.
  3. Bought 118 people chips with my student allowance.
  4. Payed over 1200 euros in one go – in twenty euro notes. (Felt v. mobster-like, especially since Catholic.) (Wish student allowance was that big, sadly was other occasion.)
  5. Smuggled self from Ireland to Britain without showing ID.
  6. Was advised to “abandon the lot and have some fun!” by British customs lady.
  7. Did not abandon lot. Still had fun.
  8. Bought books.
  9. Had timpani case run over foot, then into conductor.
  10. Was glad am not conductor.