June 21st, 2005


On not having fallen off the face of the earth, and other updates.

Actually, I'm not completely sure about that "falling off the face of the earth" thing. As least with regards to much of the social world, the evidence seems to suggest that I may very well have, though I'm going to try to be better about that now that things have calmed down a bit. In any case, what's happened is merely that I've been quite busy with schoolwork-related things, and haven't really had much time to think for the past couple of months or so; nothing dreadfully bad happened to me.

The first large chunk of busyness came about due to the 18th Annual Conference on Liquid Atomization and Spray Systems, held in Irvine, California (near Los Angeles) in late May. I spent most of March frantically finishing up my research for the paper I was presenting at the conference (online copy here), early April writing the paper, and then various other work in late April and writing the presentation in mid-May. Along the way, I finally got fed up with using Powerpoint to create my slides (15 minutes of creating a single equation, and the spacing looks horribly ugly when it's done; lots of work to align each included image, and no easy way to say "make this look just like the one I'm replacing" when I change one, for starters), and decided to figure out how to do a replacement using ConTeXt, which is based on TeX and thus does very nice equations and makes duplicating of formatting very easy.

The other large chunk of busyness involves graduations. My brother graduated from Berkeley law school with his J.D. on May 14, after three years of hard work -- which aren't quite over, really, since he's now in classes to review for his bar exam. And then I "walked through" the graduation for my Ph.D. from Stanford's mechanical engineering department on June 12th -- which means that I haven't actually graduated yet, but I'm close enough that there's no point in waiting until next year's ceremony. It also means that instead of a diploma on stage, I got handed an empty folder (as opposed to my brother, who got a "thank you for participating in the ceremony" scroll because Berkeley doesn't hand out diplomas at graduation), but I did get officially hooded. And the announcer did refer to me officially as "Doctor Moses", which would have been really weird if I had heard him instead of being distracted at that moment by walking across the stage without tripping over my own feet, and by missing my father.

My mother was out visiting for a couple of weeks for both of the graduations, and stayed most of that time with us because there really isn't much space at all for a houseguest at my brother's place. It was very nice seeing her and being able to spend time with her, but it does mean that in the last month and a half, between her visits and the conference I went to and the conference suzanne went to, I've had almost no "normal" time at all, and I've rather missed it.

In any case, July should be a good bit quieter. I'll still be continuing to work on my research and finishing up all the remaining loose ends that need to be finished up to make this all into a dissertation, and hopefully starting the process of writing all that up. And also working on my other research for the Global Climate and Energy Project, which is actually paying the bills for my tuition and stipend. Lately that's been involving a lot of Matlab programming -- stuff that, when I describe what I'm doing, makes me sound a lot more like a computer scientist than an engineer. And it's entertaining playing a computer scientist working with Matlab; it mostly does things in traditional ways, but then it occasionally does something really bizarre, like providing a function that evaluates its argument in the scope of the function that called the current function, and thereby violates all kinds of what computer scientists think of as common decency with regard to side effects. It's also an invigorating project to be working on in general, because it's a multiperson research group and the work that I'm doing is very directly helping other people right now, and I'm talking to them and getting feedback from them, as opposed to my dissertation work which is mostly just me working on things that I hope will help people in the future after they read the finished product.

And then in August things will likely start getting busy again as I start getting ready for my thesis defense, and then after that there's finalizing the dissertation and looking for a job, and all that those entail.