Archive for the 'Administrative' Category

11
May
17

Summer 2017

With the current state of the academic calendar at California State University – Maritime Academy, faculty who aren’t on what is commonly referred to as “cruise” have quite a long summer: from the fourth week of April to the last week in August.  The trade-off is that the semesters are a sprint.  None of the usual breaks except for the non-negotiables like Thanksgiving Day, Martin Luther King, Veterans’ Day, and, because this is California, Cesar Chavez Day.  And teaching loads are high compared to most colleges/universities.

This means that 90% of research by faculty occurs during the summer.  As I piece together what will become my research program at Cal Maritime, I’m endeavoring to catalogue my efforts (as well as a few other things) this summer.  It will help me be productive and organized, and hopefully it will make for some entertaining reading as I flail impotently in full view of the Internet.  Something for everyone, I’d say.

Advertisements
02
Aug
13

Header Mark II

You, a reader of my blog, are now enjoying new and improved(?) scenery at the top of the page courtesy of my recent trip to Acadia National Park. Pictured is what I believe to be minuartia groenlandica, or the mountain sandwort.  Translated further, it is a plant (wort) that lives in alpine to sub-alpine environments amongst granite ledges and the gravel that results from those ledges’ erosion.  Aptly named and described by its wiki, I think, since this is exactly the kind of place I found it. It is relatively rare in Maine because the state is on the southern end of the flower’s range and the environment that it likes isn’t found in too many places there.  The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (more specifically the Bureau of Geology, Natural Areas, and Coastal Resources within the aforementioned Department1) says that it hasn’t had a documented observation of one of these since 2002.  This suggests to me that either they haven’t bothered looking, or 2002 is when the particular webpage I am looking at was written.  Maybe both of these things are the case.

Anyway, I found all this out by searching the Internet, which is fantastic. I know that statement kind of makes me sound elderly, but I think anyone with half a measure of curiosity should be able to take a step back and wonder at the combination of clever technologies that allows me to start with a digital picture, type “tiny white flower Pemetic Acadia National Park” into Google, find a picture of the same flower captioned “mountain sandwort” on the hikenewengland.com webpage, type “mountain sandwort Acadia” into Google to get to a pdf describing “Focus Areas of Statewide Ecological Significance: Acadia East and West”, which gives me the scientific name of the flower, etc, etc.  Real life is science fiction.  Sort of.  I suppose I won’t be truly mesmerized until I can snap a picture of something relatively obscure like this flower, have my camera wirelessly transmit that picture to a server on the internet, which will run a sophisticated image analysis algorithm on it to identify the flower, compile the sum total of human knowledge on that flower, attach a few other pictures of the same species and related species for reference, and zip all that back to me in, say, a quarter of a second.  You can actually do this with Google Goggles, but it works only a very small subset of the world so far.  Until they get their act together2, I will have to find other things to marvel at.  Shouldn’t be too difficult.

1 Bureaucracy, what bureaucracy?
2 I mean, come on, right? Clearly, they are just twiddling their thumbs down there in Silicon Valley.

11
Jan
13

The New Year

So, it has certainly been a while since I’ve posted anything.  Best laid plans and all that.  It is, however, a NEW YEAR, and among my many New Year’s resolutions is posting more to this blog.  There will be physics, likely of the electricity and electronics flavor, because that’s the majority of what I’m teaching this semester.  There will be discussion of adult beverages, because giving up alcohol was not one of my New Year’s resolutions.*  There will also be a few review-ish posts about the fine and not-so-fine video games I’ve been playing, starting with a post about Fallout: New Vegas, which has the lowest ratio of gameplay to crashes-to-desktop of any game I’ve played in a long time, and yet is one of the best games I’ve played in a long time.  Some odds and a few ends will fill the gaps between all that.
Happy New Year.

* Shocking, I know.

22
Sep
12

Header

Greetings.  As you may have noticed, I have changed the header image for the blog from a big block o’ red to a photo snippet that I hope you enjoy as much as I do.  I took this one (the uncropped version) near Montana de Oro State Park near San Luis Obispo, CA.  The park name means “Mountain of Gold”, though it was named for the wildflowers in the spring/summer, not the metal.  The exact location of this gone-by dandelion was just south along the coast from the state park in some land owned by Pacific Gas and Electric.  There are trails and lovely bits of coastline, which you can wander along for the price of signing in at the little gate and avoiding the couple dozen cattle that graze there.

You might wonder why PG&E owns the land.  The answer seems to be that its part of the piece of land along the central coast of California that contains the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.  That consists of two ~1 gigawatt reactors, so it’s a big one.  Interesting tangential detail:  Google Maps will bring up its  “approximate” location for you and shows an outdated satellite image of the spot (“Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power”), but Bing Maps, i.e. Microsoft, simply says it can’t find any such place.  They probably also both send automated logs of my searches and IP address to the FBI.  Good times.

Anyway, nice place (San Luis Obispo, the state park, and the PG&E land).  Go visit if you’ve got the opportunity.

30
Aug
12

Back To School

Just FYI, if you’re one of the (very)* select readers of this blog, you might not have as much to read as often over the next few months.  The fall semester has begun at my place of employment, the California Maritime Academy…or Cal Maritime…or Cal State University – Maritime.  What one calls the institution seems to depend on a variety of factors.  I’m sure I’ll learn the system.  Someday.

Anyway, I try to teach physics to aspiring mariners.  They, in turn, try to learn physics from an aspiring professor.  Each of these endeavors has a varying degree of success.  In concert, however, the institution seems quite successful at training some of the people who move some 90% of the Earth’s international commerce (by volume).  If you like that fun fact, you can find many more with a bit of poking around at www.csum.edu.  One thing the website doesn’t do particularly well is highlight the location.  Vallejo the town isn’t anything too grand, but half the campus is about fifteen feet above sea level with a view of the lovely San Pablo Bay…and a ConocoPhillips refinery terminal.  Still, it is beautiful.  I’ll see if I can grab a picture tomorrow to add to this post and prove this assertion.

* extremely?

05
Jul
12

First

Though it may be a while before anyone other than me visits, here’s a placeholder to look at.  Still just fiddling with the options available through WordPress, since I’m no HTML/CSS wizard.  Check back for actual “content” sometime in the relatively near future.