August 14th, 2010

krazy koati

There's a storm across the valley

Before I get to reporting on the Maine Gathering I should clean up other old events and business. One started, now, nearly two months ago when my thesis advisor and co-author on the first two textbooks suggested he might have some work, or at least some papers-to-write, for me if I could get up to speed on a particular corner of Ising-type models. (These are models for how magnets are formed, and they're really interesting and someday I'll explain them.) I couldn't really get fully up to speed in the time available, but I was able to get at least familiar enough to not seem phenomenally ignorant, so we started looking more into the research.

He invited me up to his house, just north of New York City, for more preliminary talk about the research and how it might be funded; and here is where my iPad first proved to be sneakingly convenient. On driving up and crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge, I managed to take the wrong turn because the Google Maps-printed directions managed to be obscure at just the point when eighty major highways come together in fourteen feet of driving space. Ah, but, I had the data plan and cell phone service for it, and I stopped at a service plaza, turned it on, and used the location services to broadcast my position to my newest cyberstalkers. Also I got exact directions on how to get there.

When I managed to get lost almost immediately again, I turned the iPad on and left it in the passenger's seat where it could give me constant updates on where I was. And here I learned that it's very nice having this regular mapping. It also turns out it's hard to estimate how far something is, given the continuous scrollable nature of the iPad maps; I was apparently zoomed in much closer than I thought. Also its position --- based on cell phone towers --- is not just approximate, but laggy, so that I managed to miss the street my advisor lived on the first time around. (I also thought it might loop around and merge back to the road I was on.) Still, I found my way there and only had a few calls from him asking if I was lost.

Trivia: Clifford M Holland's design for his car tunnel underneath the Hudson River called for 84 electric fans each 80 feet in diameter to pump fresh air into the tunnel. (42 intake and 42 exhaust.) Source: It Happened In New Jersey, Fran Capo.

Currently Reading: History Of Electric Light And Power, Brian Bowers.