Friday, July 27, 2007


I typed in "Six Feet Under" to youtube and watched the season five promotional video. The characters were driving. They reach intersections in barren landscapes where they have to make choices.

I think of my own cross roads and wonder if I've actually made any choices. Somehow everything feels close, just a few steps away. I think that I've always tried to get places while at the same time leaving open the option to get back to where I was.

And then I think of the concept of a metric space. The internet can invert close and far. It all just seems too abstract. Well, that's enough random thoughts for a Friday night. Dangerous business...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

keeping in touch

sometimes its hard to keep in touch with everyone. Why do we call certain friends and not others? Why does it take so long to write back to someone and say: "doing fine, thanks for asking." or "life's a bit rough, how are you?"

I guess people bring out different things in us. I imagine calling one person and know that I would end up talking about how depressed I am and how I want more friends, etc. If I call someone else, I'd end up talking about all the interesting work I'm doing. Some people would give me the impression that I'm leading a lonely difficult life, while others leave me with the impression that I'm doing exciting interesting things, meeting interesting people, and really doing exactly what I should be doing at this stage in my life.

Maybe it just means that its a complicated time. Its not one thing or the other, but a big mix of many things. I also think I'm one of these people who's a bit vague, not so well defined at the center of things, at least in the short term. I know everyone has this aspect to them, but its a matter of what's central. For people like me, who change easily, we have to be a bit careful of who we talk to. People can have a big effect on us. Sometimes its only in withdrawal, that I find my own direction again. But withdrawal can become a direction on its own, rather than a tool, if you're not careful. Not that its actually that bad of a direction, if you can take it. There's a whole realm of life surrounding being a solitary person, seeking yourself, or something beyond you inside you.

Friday, July 20, 2007


I just saw this film from the Stony Brook Film Festival called Who Loves the Sun.
One funny aspect was that I knew one of the main characters (went to high school with him). I've seen him act in a few other things, and I was realizing that its not so different from seeing any other actor multiple times. You start to feel like you know them- they become a part of your life.

The film was spotty, as most independent films are. Some parts really didn't work- with forced dialogue and pauses that made one feel that the actors didn't know what the scene was about.
The music sometimes had an experimental feel to it. But that's part of what can be so great- the lack of control can open up such interesting, unexpected pieces.

The story mainly surrounded Will, Maggie and Daniel. Will and Maggie were married, but after Maggie had sex with Daniel, Will leaves for five years. They are all stuck together at a beautiful lake house, and they fumble around trying to resolve old issues. Some of the shots were really nice, such as a long slow panning from the sky to the ground through trees and leaves.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

learning something new

I'm trying to learn about collective effects in high energy electron beams. This involves the interaction of the beam with itself, mediated by its surroundings. One decomposes the distribution into modes, and tries to find the growth rates of these modes- positive growth implies an instability.

I've studied the Fokker-Planck equation and various physical origins for damping and diffusion, but this has a different flavor from the collective effects involving wake-fields and impedances.

So I have all these papers and a somewhat specified goal that I don't know enough to understand. I skim the papers and other books and try to get a feel for the language and direction. Then I feel useless for awhile- like I haven't learned anything, and like I don't know any physics, and like there are all these very tall walls to scale that I never will. And meanwhile, all the other things that I'm supposed to be doing fade out and also seem impossible.
It just colors everything. Its like how the book I'm reading can set the flavour for the rest of my life.

Next day: hmm, not so bad, I guess this stuff seems a little bit easier than I thought. But jeez... what a messy process.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


There must be a better way to defrost my freezer than to wait for huge chunks of ice to come crashing down...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I met people from Germany, England, New Mexico, etc. People are looking for the next big thing. Some complain about lack of inspiration, others complain about lack of rigour.
I guess for the first time I felt the pull of something like a center of gravity for this community.
I was reminded of the scene from the Star Wars film where they visit Jar Jar's people, and suddenly it opens up in front of them, this huge, hidden, underwater world.