Maybe not the best time to be looking for a physics job

I have been hearing a lot about the big hurt being put on US particle physics because of the recent budget cuts. This particular blog posting, on an excellent public health blog, caught my interest because of the discussion of people taking postdocs overseas. I don’t know what other options I would have found in the US because my current job (in the overseas postdoc category) came up at the beginning of my search.  I’m left a little concerned about what I will find when I do start applying sometime soon.

Not that I had my heart set on moving into high-energy physics, but I am in a closely allied subfield already and the people who are forced to leave the big atom smashers are going to have to work somewhere. That makes positions harder to get throughout physics. Just in case I run out of things to worry about, right?

The conclusion of the post linked above:

Today NIH spending in real terms is at or below what it was before the celebrated “doubling” of the late 90s. We are losing a generation of scientific leaders as postdocs can’t get new grant and mid-career academics coming up for tenure can’t get their grants renewed. That’s in biology and medicine, the kind of research the public ostensibly does care about.

No wonder physics is in bad shape.


Santana shreds

This is priceless. Every time I watch it gets funnier… you have to catch the keyboard player dropping into the Final Countdown at 1:11.

Not sure what a hat tip from Wild Goose Chase is worth, but I got this from Jonathan Coulton’s blog. He has a link to a whole collection of these from YouTuber StSanders. JoCo’s favorite is Jake E. Lee shreds, because, in his words, “it has Ozzy clapping all out of time like a crazy person.” Yeah, it does.

A little two-day holiday

Yesterday was the “work outing” day at my job. Once a year, companies have to organize a one-day outing for the employees. It’s a chance to go do something together and I suppose is intended to enhance the feeling of working as a team. Or some crap like that. For this year’s work outing, I suggested that we go to Tropical Islands. I will tell you what Tropical Islands is in a second. But let me first tell you that we voted on all the ideas and the TI plan won in an runoff. Despite being the most popular idea, attendance was poor. Several people are on vacation because the next day (today) is a holiday, but several others chose to go to work instead of attending. I don’t get that. Possibly that had to do with the cost (it was about $50 for me for the day), but I emphasized the cost from the very beginning and people seemed OK with it. Anyway.

So, what is TI? In 2000, a company called CargoLifter built a huge (and I mean huge) hangar in northeast Germany to build zeppelin airships (BBC article on TI). The idea was to use them as a low-cost way to transport heavy things over large distances. They planned to use helium, by the way, instead of flammable hydrogen gas. But the idea never caught on, and this giant hangar, almost 650 feet tall and over 800,000 square feet of area, was just sitting there in the middle of some fields in the state of Brandenburg.

At the cost of over 90 million dollars, the hangar was transformed into a water park, with a beach, a lagoon, waterslides, a tropical village, a rainforest, and Jupiter knows what else that I didn’t even see. Long story short, I had a great time yesterday. I played on the waterslides for hours, swam in the South Sea, and floated around in the lagoon. We saw the midday live show while dining on schnitzel strips and french fries (fries — good, show — well, mixed). I was late getting back to Berlin for our German class but I only missed part of it. All in all, it was a really nice day off.

South Sea

The Südsee, or South Sea, at Tropical Islands (very “Truman show,” no?)

And today is a day off, too! It’s the Tag der Deutschen Einheit, or day of German unity, celebrating the German reunification in 1990. S and I are celebrating this singular moment in Germany’s history by lazing around the house. We plan to head down to the Brandenburg gate for a free concert from Die Fantastischen Vier tonight, if the weather is OK. It was 76 degrees all day yesterday at Tropical Islands, but outside in the real world it’s more like the high 50s.

Tomorrow, it’s back to work. It is the Tag der Carolinaundkentuckyamerikanischenfussball, but that’s not a holiday here. Unfortunately.

Just by chance

Sometimes things are that much better when you stumble on them by surprise. While we were traveling recently, S’s friend Ricardo took us along a walk near Lugano to a little town called Gandria. We got there in the middle of a local concert by a mandolin group. It was very cool, and that much more so because we just happened on it. Take a look:

Gruppo Mandolinistico Gandria

At the time, I thought the song was some Viennese waltz, but I have since learned that it is Sobre las Olas (Above the Waves) by Juventino Rosas.  For the whole story of our trip to CH, venture to the home of the Super Babe.

Busy traveling!

I have been neglecting the blog once again, but when you see this video that I have compiled from all the traveling recently, you will understand. Ahh, all these places!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Sorry, Robin, I just could not resist!

And now is the time on Sprockets when we dance…

The “longest beer garden in the world” is happening right now just down the street from our house! It’s the International Berlin Beer Festival, going on from Friday until today. We really hadn’t heard about it but we decided to walk back from downtown after seeing Transformers yesterday, and, well… you just don’t miss a mile of beer. We’ll probably take a little more time to check it out today, but we took a little video yesterday and I thought I would share. Brings back memories of Radio Daze at the Oktoberfest in Nashville!

We took another video of the band doing that classic German biergarten tune “Take Me Home, Country Road.”  To which I link you without further description, here.


The Band Director Guy recently posted about mashups, which are songs pieced together from the audio of two different songs… often very different songs. He gave a couple good examples — I particularly liked the JayZ/Verve mashup of Dirt of your Shoulders/Bittersweet Symphony (on YouTube) and also had to give classic props to the Justin Timberlake/Sugar Hill Gang mashup Rock your body/Rappers Delight (Radio Blog). In his comments I offered up When I’m 25 or 64 done by Jonathan Coulton.

Thanks for posting that stuff, BDG! They really cracked me up. Listening to them reminded me of a different kind of music mixup where a band plays covers in a completely different style from the original. There’s one band called Hayseed Dixie that plays bluegrass covers of metal tunes. My buddy Eric from grad school used to play one of their CDs during poker nights. And I recently discovered another one (which you can hear in the youtube box below) called Beatallica. They play Beatles tunes with somewhat modified lyrics… and in the style of Metallica, of course.

It’s funny… I wanted to make a CD of them for Eric to hear when we went to Hugo and Isa’s wedding last weekend. I forgot to make the CD but when I mentioned the name of the band he had already heard of them. How is it that some people are always in the know about cool/weird stuff like this and where do I sign up?!

Hey Dude

EDIT: Good point from Mike in the comments.  And I don’t have to break the Metallica theme to bring you some Richard Cheese.

Enter Mr. Sandman