Monthly Archives: September 2007

Project 365 comments thread (Fall)

sunset clouds, originally uploaded by arcanegazebo.

It’s the autumnal equinox today, so the summer thread is officially outdated. Meanwhile, it is also thesis-writing season, so expect less interesting pictures as I spend much of my time in front of the computer.

Avast! Ahoy! Yo ho! And so forth!

YARR! It be Talk Like A Pirate Day! Traditionally (ok, just last year), I announce the Pirate Song of the Year today, but I can’t think of any sufficiently piratical songs that have come out this year. However, we are taking nominations in the comments.
Instead, we open a new category: The Pirate Film of the Year.
Gore Verbinski, present yerself at the foredeck!
For the achievement of Pirate Film So Reportedly Lame I Didn’t Bother Seeing It (of the Year), ye are rewarded with a one-way voyage to Davy Jones’ Locker. Feed him to the sharks!
And now, the Pirate Film of the Year: Stardust. An extra share of booty fer Neil Gaiman, Matthew Vaughn, and Robert De Niro! ARRR!
Elsewhere, Chris Bertram warns not to try talking like a pirate in Bristol, where they talk like this all the time.

Instrumental Loveless

I was listening to one of my two favorite albums of all time—My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless—when I read that an instrumental band called Japancakes is covering the entire album on a CD coming out in November. This is a highly ambitious project, both from a technical standpoint (see Wikipedia for what was required to make the original), and from a critical one—in indie rock circles Loveless is a consensus choice for one of the best albums of all time, and a cover will almost certainly fall short.
So I was pleasantly surprised that Japancakes’ take on the first song (“Only Shallow”) is actually pretty good:

I downloaded the mp3 (in the first link above) and will probably buy the album. It certainly won’t supplant the original, but it’s an interesting twist.
The original version of “Only Shallow” can be found on YouTube but I won’t link it; this really is one of those albums that needs to be heard in CD quality (and preferably on good speakers rather than, say, iPod earbuds). If you’re unfamiliar with the album, you might still have heard the song “Sometimes” on the Lost in Translation soundtrack (but if you’re looking to try out one or two of the songs, go with “To Here Knows When” or “Soon”).

Cal Career Fair: initial report

The career fair mentioned in the previous post began today with recruiters from business and public service; most of these were somewhat removed from what I was looking for but I dropped in to see if any of the finance people were looking for physicists. Observations:

  • My ability to fend off shyness is highly context-dependent, and my social skills were unable to adapt to the new environment, and deserted me—I feel like I promptly regressed to the stereotypical socially inept science nerd. Unfortunately, the only cure is to keep trying until approaching a recruiter no longer causes me to blush.

  • I debated whether to even bother approaching companies that hadn’t indicated in their listing that they were seeking PhDs. I did, and this turned out to be a good idea, since several of the finance firms were looking for people with my background even if they weren’t necessarily advertising the fact here. Usually in these cases the directive was “apply on the website,” but I was able to gauge who was looking and what their level of interest was.
  • One company had a listing and a table assignment but was not to be found. However, when I returned to my e-mail afterwards, I promptly received a recruiting message from them. This is due either to coincidence or the existence of remote SQUID-based brain scanners, in which case I should find the company that makes those and apply there.
  • The swag today was pretty terrible—almost everybody gave away pens. I also generally forgot to take stuff, since all my mental resources were directed at the suddenly difficult task of assembling words into sentences. Microsoft had some nifty looking keychains with some kind of LCD game on them, but I felt a strange, almost supernatural reluctance to approach their table. (And I’ve only been a Mac user for a couple months!)
  • The tables drawing the least interest from the crowd were the United States Marine Corps, and Philip Morris—apparently Berkeley produces relatively few Nick Naylors. Goldman Sachs got more traffic than these two combined during a period when their table was unmanned, and even the oil companies were doing better.

Tomorrow: Tech companies! Defense contractors! Better swag! More blushing!

Comics and Career Fairs

Webcomics continue to be too accurate with the latest sequence at PhD Comics. Of course, Jorge Cham’s humor has always ranged from “funny because close to home” to “not funny because too close to home”. This year the strips in the latter category have been especially well-timed: the series linked above, for example, comes not just when I’m in the same situation, but the week of Cal’s major Career Fair. (Identifying other examples is left as an exercise for the reader.)
Anyway, the career fair starts tomorrow; the fraction of recruiters looking for physics PhDs is indeed pretty low (as would be expected for a general campus career fair) but nonzero. (There’s an event specifically targeted at masters and PhDs next month.) I’ll be attending with copies of my resume in hand, hoping to get someone’s attention or, failing that, pick up some good swag. Any advice for this sort of thing?

Not funny, Randall

Yeah, I’ve been there a few times. In the past my insomnia has usually been driven by anxiety, but my most recent bout (a couple months ago) seemed to be a shift in my circadian rhythm. I was able to resync my internal clock by strictly adhering to my target wake-up time no matter how little sleep I got, but only after several days of total exhaustion.
Since then I’ve found it easier to make adjustments to my sleeping patterns. I’ve had a few lazy weeks (ah, flexible academic work hours) but this week I’ve gone to a schedule where I actually get up strikingly early (by my standards) and (gasp!) eat breakfast, in order to have a substantial block of time in the morning reserved for writing my thesis. Those of you tracking the Project 365 photos will have noticed that this officially started on Wednesday, we’ll see how it goes…