Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Qual, an icequake, and other disturbances

I took the qualifying exam last weekend, and got my score today. I think it was a remarkably good score considering that it was a six-hour test on any/all of undergraduate physics with no formula sheet. So I will be most likely be allowed to remain in WI for another 4 winters or until the weather kills me. Which it continues to try to do. For example, with the wildly fluctuating temperatures (from a sunny tropical 40F to -10F and then back to the reasonable low 20's in the last three days) the lake north of campus apparently had enough and a bunch of ice shifted, shaking several campus buildings (including mine) enough to cause calls to security/facilities. As far as I know it didn't actually damage anything - but still. The weather is insane.

Also, attempting to start my car in the ridiculous cold apparently killed the battery, so it still doesn't start and I don't have time to deal with getting it jumped. Great. Or, perhaps I do have time to get it jumped, but I foolishly spend it writing blog-rants. Whatever. In any case, though I am tired and cold and increasingly out of food that isn't milk, eggs, bread, peanut butter and jelly, or ramen, I'm in good spirits. But busy; blog posting will resume at some date TBD.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Whether being cold builds character I couldn't say. However, it is amazingly effective at building perspective and tolerance for cold. This morning, I went outside to try to start my car (all attempts were unsuccessful)*. For this adventure I wore long underwear under my usual jeans and tshirt, a winter hat, a hoodie (hood on), my jacket with its fleece liner (hood on). I was probably not in immediate danger of freezing, but I could still tell that it was pretty cold. It was about -9 F (wind chill: -27 F). However, a few hours later (temperature: -4 F, wind chill: -25 F) when I went outside without my jacket and with only one head covering to empty the recyclables can I was fine. I also suspect that I will be *happy* when the high temps go back to a balmy 15 F in a few days.

It will also be interesting to see what happens tonight when I will probably walk ~1.2 miles to go to a juggling show and then, depending on the bus schedule, walk home (unless I decide to go to a party downtown after the show... which will add alcohol and two additional miles of walking to the equation). If no one hears from me for a while, it may be safe to assume that my hypothermia-inducing stupidity has been removed from the gene pool (alternatively, I may be busy studying for quals).

*The Paul Simonmobile has another interesting problem also. Last time I took it out, a lot of water condensed on the insides of the windshield and windows... then it froze and it hasn't thawed since. So, if the car starts again before spring, I will probably need to scrape the *inside* of the windshield before I can actually go anywhere. W00T.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Returned from civilization

I'm back in Madison. On the plane from Newark to Detroit there was thin cloud cover everywhere and I saw a rainbow from the plane (and since it was below me, I saw the entire ring... it was pretty cool). Also, Northwest is the only airline I've flown on more than once that has a perfect record for getting my luggage onto the correct planes at the correct times and not causing me horrendous pain during any of my flights (and they earn bonus points for giving me an entire can of soda on one of my flights instead of just a cup). I will never fly with them again because they've clearly been setting me up for some sort of optimism-crushing mishap. Bastards.

Anyway, much of the snow melted in my absence. My car is no longer stuck in the driveway. However, I had been hoping that I would be able to see the ground and because it snowed yesterday or early this morning (or both) that didn't happen. *Sigh.* I'm not going to see the grass again until March (if I don't freeze to death before then).

I got most of my errands out of the way today, tomorrow will be back to studying and then on Monday I will need to go to work. Joy.