Friday, May 30, 2008


i just finished moving out of my math department office. a year ago i had 3 offices at rutgers, and now i have 0. (actually, i'm hanging on to the keys until july, just to make it a gradual process, but my desk area is EMPTY).

this morning, i got an email from a friend at church who wants to plan lunch with me and a bunch of other people in a month as a goodbye party of sorts.

i mean, sure i "knew" i'm leaving, and i've been planning on packing, moving, and preparing for indiana for months now, but i think today was the first time i "felt" it.

it's going to be a heck of a lot more difficult to say goodbye to new jersey than i've been allowing myself to think it would be....

Thursday, May 08, 2008

holy cow!


i've been talking about going to the next permutations conference since the location was announced last june, but it's so much more concrete to actually have a plane ticket. holy cow...

such long layovers, and such long flights... i'm getting like 9616 miles one way and 9739 miles the other way.... awesome!

the trans-pacific legs are on double decker planes with nearly 70 rows of seats... i've been trans atlantic before, but that's still HUGE.

this is really happening.... HOORAY!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

take THAT circuit city!

the story:

* my mom helped me get a laptop for christmas 2006. (my christmas present was she let me build my own laptop, and she paid a fixed amount, and i paid anything in surplus of that.)

* i got an HP pavillion dv6000, which is a really cute machine, and i've liked it a lot.

* unfortunately one of the common problems with this model (which i didn't know at the time) was that the power button/speakers go out...

* i have had this laptop for nearly 1.5 years now and my one year warranty was over, when i had the power button/speakers problem.

* since i'd had a good relationship with circuit city for buying equipment and customer service throughout my time in NJ, i went there to see about repairs.

* they told me up front they charge $60-$70 as a "diagnosis fee" to tell you what's wrong (i.e. to cover themselves just in case what you think is wrong isn't the only problem). i agreed, and told them that the power button and speakers didn't work. i'd talked to HP customer support and determined it wasn't a software issue, so i needed a store to take it in person and fix the hardware. they gave me a work order that said explicitly "power and main speakers don't work." they said they'd call in 3-7 days.

* 10 days later, i'd heard nothing, so i went in in person to ask. the guy i dropped the computer off with looked surprised, and went and called the shop on his iphone and chatted across the store for 10 whole minutes. he returned to me and said "yeah, so your speakers don't work and there's a lot on your desktop"
me: "yes, that's what i told you when i dropped it off. can you tell me something new? what about the power button?"
circuitcity guy: "just a second, let me call the guy in the shop again"
(5 minutes later)
circuitcity guy: "really? he was supposed to look at your power button?"
me: (wave work order) "that IS what this says, isn't it?"
circuitcity guy: "oh... ok, well, i've been on the clock for 2 hours and not doing anything, how about if i get it and look at it myself"
me: "that would be good"
... i went home and he called an hour later "yeah, your speakers and power button have bad cables, but i can't find the part myself... if you locate it, you can bring it back here for me to install it."

$60 and TEN DAYS to REPEAT WHAT I TOLD YOU MYSELF when i dropped it off.... EERRRRRGGGHHH!!!!! circuit city... never again....

* on account of his comments, my brother and i went on ebay and found a refurbished power button and cable for my model of computer ($20), and monday night i went to my friend jared's house and let him disect my computer and replace the power button.

* this morning, i turned on my computer, and the sound was magically working too! (so apparently circuit city didn't even know what they were talking about on that!)

all this is to say, i'd had a bad experience with the people at best buy telling lies and acting like they knew all about equipment that they didn't back in february... now with circuit city, i realize that they don't necessarily have any better people. if it's luck of the draw, from here on out, i'm doing my own computer repair, because the so-called "experts" are kind of crap at it...

end of rant. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


it's amazing how quickly things change....

1 month ago, barely sleeping from stress and working hard to finish my thesis...

now, sleeping quite well and enjoying the first break to get mundane things done in months.
the last two weekends have been awesome! this past weekend my brother was here from TN for the first time in 3 years. it was fun to have an excuse to be out and about just having fun... the weekend before that i went to a conference at UC davis and spent the day before exploring san francisco... ran into a number of old friends from various parts of my mathematical past there too.

but even over the summer:

1 month from now, i will have graduated, and have my ph.d. diploma in my hands.

2 months from now i will be flying back from a research conference in new zealand and just past my 27th birthday

3 months from now i will be driving a uhaul full of 3/4 of my earthly belongings from NJ to Indiana with my brother

4 months from now i will be teaching 2-3 college level math classes as "professor" rather than "TA" and hopefully unpacked and settled near chicago.

when things fall into place it's amazing how quickly such big transitions can happen!

mostly, i don't think it's sunk in that i'm technically a "doctor" now, but it has sunk in that i suddenly have more time to breathe and relax in spurts than i've had in years. this will quickly change, but i'm enjoying this phase while it's here!

that's all.

be parties one and all.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


for the past 5 years i've been fairly loyal to circuit city.

when my desktop died and i needed a new one, they set me up.

when that monitor needed replacement while still under warranty, they helped me out quickly.

for dozens of little and bigger things, they've been rockstars.

then in the past few months, my laptop (an HP whose warranty expired in january) has been acting up. the current issue is that the sound doesn't work from the speakers and that you have to jam the power button really hard to turn it on. i first contacted HP directly via email in the middle of the night while i tried to troubleshoot on my own... they responded via email within 2 hours and apologized for the delay! they said from my description of what i'd done so far that it appears to be a hardware issue and that i should take it into a circuit city or best buy in person to get it addressed by someone who could SEE the problem. so to circuit city i went.

they were up front and said they'd charge a diagnostic fee to check it out for a day before working on it to make sure what i thought was wrong really was the problem. i told them that software wise it was fine, but my speakers only work when i use headphones and the power button is hard to work, so it's two hardware issues that are close in proximity. they're computer people though, so they're smart, they'll see this, agree, and take care of it, right?

apparently not.

the day i took it in to get diagnosed i also explained i needed it for a conference last weekend so i wanted to leave it for the day and pick it up for the weekend and bring it back later... that was fine too.

when i brought it back monday they assured me that now that it was diagnosed, they'd take care of it quickly and call me when it was done... 3-7 days.

today is the 7th day and i'd still heard nothing, so i called to check. after getting disconnected midcall TWICE, i went in person. the guy at the counter knew nothing so he called the guy who had my computer in the back... he reported back to me "well you have a lot on the desktop, but it seems to work fine, but the sound doesn't work"

me: "yes, that's exactly what i told you TEN days ago, when i gave it to you. i brought it here so you could try to fix the sound... and if you can't fix that, at least the power button. what's the status on that?"

guy at counter: "oh, i don't know about the power, let me check"

after 3 more minutes on the phone, he reported back to me "he hasn't really looked at the power button."

me: "it took him 6 days to repeat what i said when i brought the machine here and he didn't even look at what i brought it in for?" (and in my defense for clarity, i have a printed work order from when i brought it in the first time that says exactly that the sound doesn't work and the power button has to be pushed very hard to make it turn on...)

the guy at the counter apologized and said if i gave him 2 hours, he'd open up my laptop himself and see if he can fix anything. he called back 1.5 hours later and said "the power cable and sound cable inside are shot and we don't have the parts. if you want, you can call HP yourself and bring it back for us to install them but for now you can pick up your computer"

so i did.

when i dropped it off, i could turn the laptop on by pressing the power button hard... now nothing.

and most places are out of stock with the part i need... i just ordered a "refurbished" one on ebay.

hp's craftmanship for making a model with such a common and big flaw (power button is important no matter what you use your machine for) sucks, but at least their customer service was helpful.

circuit city, for taking my machine for a week and charging me to repeat what i told them when i handed it over to their care sucks... and returning it so that i have no power whatsoever is even worse.

5 years of being a loyal customer and all down the drain in about a week.


Monday, April 07, 2008

twas the night before thesis defense...

... and unsurprisingly i can’t sleep.

this is funny:
145 things (not) to do at your thesis defense

and this is not thesis-y at all, but it still made me laugh
remix of the star spangled banner

but this is probably most appropriate of all, borrowed from:

Twas the night before thesis
And all through the house
Not a keyboard was stirring
And neither, the mouse

The journals were strewn
’cross the floor with no care
in the hopes that the signatures
soon would be there

When I in my sweatshirt
Rolled off of my cat
And with bleary eyes woke
From a short thesis nap

I stood from my slumber
And looked ’round my room
"I’ll defend this vile thesis,
and defend it quite soon."

The coffee was spilled
On my old office chair
"I’ll clean that next Monday,
It’s no harm to me there."

When off in the distance
I heard the odd sound
"’Tis my external", said I
"That’s his plane, touching ground"
But the sounds were unlike
Any jet that I knew
Instead of twin engines
It sounded like hooves

So I went to the window
And rubbed my red eyes
And saw the external
Fall out of the skies

And instead of a suitcase
He carried a sack
Which was lumpy with boxes
’Twas my worst fears come back

"He’s brought some new journals,"
I thought out of fright
"To point out my faults,
and cause a re-write"

But he seemed not cruel
Or looking for folly
As he ambled towards the lab
He seemed quite jolly

And he opened his sack
Untying the string
And looked in my eyes, saying
"I bring you one thing."

"I remember the trauma
Of defense in my time
So instead of petty questions
I have brought it back signed."

Well he tossed out the box
With the thesis within it
And with a "Ho Ho Ho"
He was off in a minute

And then off in the distance
The portly man cried
"Merry thesis to all
and to all a good night"

... dude, in 18 hours the big scary defense will be done and my graduate career with have nothing left than possible thesis edits and easy forms to fill out.  how weird is that?