Thursday, September 6, 2007

Summoning the fire

Found this sign drunkenly stumbling around UVA a few years ago:

Beware UVA sorcerers! If you "summon the fire" without good cause you could be in trouble!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The new iPods

Today, Apple announced an update to it's line of iPods. I am proud owner of a Mac and and iPod, but I think the new iPod touch is misguided. It's important to keep in mind that iPods are, first and foremost, mp3 players.

Let's start by considering the options presented by the new iPod nanos and iPod classics (which both look awesome!):

1. The nano: An inexpensive, physically small way to carry a modest amount of music, for many users, not enough storage to carry their whole library.

2. The classic: A more expensive, moderately sized device in which you can now carry a massive amount of music.

Now lets see what the brand spankin' new iPod touch has to offer AS AN MP3 PLAYER:
An expensive, physically large device in which you'll only be able to carry part of your music library. The high end model, at $400 for only 16 gigs, only offers half the storage of the low end iPod photo released well over 2 years ago!

Now, apple has an iPod for 3 groups of people. Those who don't want to pay much, want a small device, and don't mind small storage, those who don't mind paying a little more for a larger device with a massive amount of storage, and those who want to pay a ton for a large device that can't hold all their music. I think the last group only contains idiots.

Sure, you can use it can browse the net over Wi-Fi, watch videos (not many if you want to have any kind of decent music collection) on a bigger screen, and amuse yourself with the cool interface. But as an MP3 player, I don't see how you can rationalize paying that much for such a physically large device that can't even hold your whole catalog.

Count me out.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Grad school application tips: Part 2 - GRE scores

Students often get hung up on their GRE scores. These scores are important but they are not the deal breakers that students often see them as.

It is important to remember that there is much more to your application then these few numbers. This was first pointed out to me by admissions staff at Harvard during my REU there. It is easy to get hung up on your scores, but its not worth it. There is so much more to your application. My physics GRE score was in the 54th percentile, below at least one schools "reccomended minimum" but I was still admitted into their program.

Prepare for the GREs, do well on them, but do not wast your energy getting hung up on them.

(Click the "application tips" link below to see everything I've written on this topic.)

Monday, September 3, 2007

Red sox fans are not a "nation"

Thank you Jim Caple

Caple recently wrote this column, in which he hits the nail on the head about Red Sox fans and why they should all just drown themselves: "Your acting like Yankees fans." Keep in mind this guy hates the Yankees as much as the next guy.

If you ever ask a Yankees hating Sox fan why they hate the Yankees, you'll commonly hear things like, "They just buy all their talent." Well, genius, guess which team is #2 in payroll. That's right, the Red Sox; if you were a Tampa Bay fan, you could use this line. Or you might hear, "They just have a bunch of bandwagon fans." Really? And you don't think this doesn't apply to Red Sox fans? As Caple Points out, USA today recently labeled the Sox as baseball's new biggest attraction.

You are not a nation, go look up the word. You are a group of idiots, and you should shut up.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Grad school application tips: Part 1 - I will succeed

Since I haven't started grad school yet (and won't for a couple weeks), I can't write about it. In the mean time, I thought I would help people out with some tips on getting in to science PhD programs. I will be attending a school with an excellent reputation; I won't tell you which one, so that none of you crazy internet stalkers can track me down and hack me to a million pieces, but we're talking top five in physics. Hopefully these tips can help others get into some awesome programs as well.

I'll post these tips in installments as I recall them. I've been trying to forget the whole ordeal; it was not fun and was complicated by the fact I applied to US schools while living overseas.

One last thing before I begin: I will try not to dwell on the obvious. We've all heard a million times about the importance of research experience, letters of recommendation etc. These things are extremely important, and I am not discounting this. Rather, I will focus on other considerations that aren't emphasized so widely but are equally important.

Tip 1: I will succeed.

The number 1 idea you should have in your head every second you spend filling out your application is: "I want the application committee to have no doubt that I will be successful in their program."

After all, this is what the application process is all about, figuring out who will be successful. These schools make a significant financial investment in every student and they don't want their students getting frustrated and quiting. I have found that schools are shying away from practices designed to "filter" students out after a few years in the program; most departments want each student admitted to succeed in the program.

I am serious when I say "have this idea in your head every second you spend on the application." Convincing the committee that you will succeed is your goal; your application packet is the tool medium through which you must accomplish this. For example, you will undoubtedly have to write some sort of personal statement. You'll get a lame prompt along the lines of "Describe your reasons for pursuing a graduate degree, your past work and experiences, and your goals and plans for future occupation." You should read the prompt as the follows: "Leave us with no doubt in our minds that you are an excellent match for our program, and will be a successful student who has what it take to gets through. In convincing us of this discuss your reasons for pursuing a graduate degree, your past work and experiences, and your goals and plans for future occupation."

The same strategy applies to all aspects of your application, such as listing achievements and honors etc.

Good luck, more to come soon.

(Click the "application tips" link below to see everything I've written on this topic.)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

24 Hours my ass

Five hours of partying, drinking, and rocking out at a party thrown by Andrew WK can leave you pretty hungry. If your not familiar with Andrew WK, I highly recommend looking into him. He is the embodiment of Fun. As I was saying, I had worked up quite an appetite at the party; I'm proud to announce that I even did a bona fide stage dive, a long time goal of mine.

Walking home from the Metro with my buddy we wondered where we could find food in suburbia at 3:30 in the morning. We decided to hit up the supposed 24 hour Giant grocery store to obtain taquitos or steak'ems or something equally as nutritious. We were disappointed to find the following sign:
I, for one, am fascinated by the sign. As Lewis Black would say, this is the kind of thing that can give you an aneurysm if you think about it too hard. The best part is that the whole thing is on the same sticker, one continuous piece of material. This means, that somewhere along the line, at least one person, probably several, actually looked directly at this sticker and said "Yep, this is right. This is the exact message we want our customers to see." Idiots.

I went to bed hungry. Thanks Giant Food LLC.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Catlike reflexes and Christopher Walken

So I'm at Baskin Robin's the other night, and after a grueling decision making process I decide to go for the Reeses peanut butter cup flavor. Awesome. I get my cone and take a lick. Awesome indeed. Then the unthinkable happened. Thanks to Pimple Face High School McGee who got me the cone, and doesn't seem to understand how to properly mount ice cream on a cone, the ball of goodness that is my ice cream breaks loose and falls toward the nasty floor (which Pimple Face High School McGee obviously hasn't moped in days). Luckily for everyone involved, I apparently have the reflexes of a cat. I manage to reach up and catch the deliciousness before it was ruined forever. Awesome.

Speaking of things that are awesome, let's all take a moment to bask in the awesome that is Christopher Walken dancing to Fatboy Slim.