Life, Death, and the Meaning of it All

Well I will be away from blogging a bit. My dad (Larry) passed away suddenly last Friday at my family’s cabin in northern California. I’m now at home in Yreka among family and friends. Of course, normally this would be a depressing post, but there was little to nothing depressing about my father so instead I just wanted to write short notes on a few things which are very much Larry-esque.
1. Look up! When we go out at night, we just don’t spend time to look at the stars. Stop and look up at the sky (even if you can see but two stars because you live in a smog cloaked sky!) Stars remind us that we live in an amazing and wonderous universe. That those points of light are light years away and that we are small in this universe don’t diminish us but only put outselves in perspective of a greater grandeur. So look up at the stars! Spend an evening freezing yourself in a lawn chair and thinking about perspective. “As for myself, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.” Vincent van Gogh.
2. Find humor and amazement in everything you do. There is nothing which enforces a law of seriousness (well maybe brussel sprouts, but even then, they’re pretty comic, don’t you think?). The human predicament, even in its darkest times, must alway remain a comedy, or a tragecomedy, or at least a bit of learning from the astonishing places we get ourselves into. The trap is that we find ourselves believing our ideas and stuck viewing the world through a single lens. Use the lens of humor and amazement! Don’t take the world’s seriousness seriously!
So remember my dad these next few weeks: look up at the stars and find humor in new places!


Visiting the University of New Mexico and Los Alamos this week, so posting may be sparse. It is wonderfully cold here.

MIT QIP Seminar

Today I will be giving a talk at the MIT QIP seminar. Here is the abstract for the talk

There are distinct physical reasons why classical computers act as naturally error free devices. Not all classical systems can act as robust classical computers. Similarly we should not expect all quantum systems to be useful for quantum computation. More interestingly we can ask the question of whether there exist (or whether we can engineer) naturally fault-tolerant quantum computers. In this talk I will discuss recent progress toward this goal and present a sequence of examples which possess many of the properties of a naturally fault-tolerant quantum computer.

I like to call this talk my “sermon on the mount” talk. In case anyone is interested in attending, the talk will be held at 16:00 hours in room 4-270.

Tempting Chronos

Well I’ve made it to MIT. But not before spending 9 extra hours in LAX due to the southern California fires! My nice easy flight back to Boston turned into a horrible 9 hours plus a redeye. Ouch. OK Chronos, I have learned my lesson. Temporal karma is worth more than gold.


Off to MIT for ten days. From “hi”s in the 90s to “lows” in the 40s. Brrr. Notice how I have planned my trip back east to coincide with the end of day light savings time. Wahahaha!

Job Hunt, Second Season

Today I officially started the hunt for my next job. After much procastination, I finally sat down and tried to formulate a strategy for landing my next job. Of course this failed miserably. I am totally clueless when it comes to applying for jobs/fellowships/positions scrubbing the floor. Last year’s job hunt (season one) was such an abysmal failure that it doesn’t really give me anything to build on (I would have like to at least gotten a foot in the door for one of the positions I applied to, but my foot was so far out of the door, you’d need a good pair of binoculars to even if I had shoes on.)
All of this reminds me of an idea for a new reality television show: “Survivor: Academia Island” Twenty overqualified Ph.D.’s stranded on a presitigious university campus all competing for a single tenure-track position. A no holds barred fight for one faculty position. Who will survive the first round and get an interview? Will anyone backstab and trash their fellow contestants? Whose shmoozing will increase their chances beyond their academic qualifications? And of course, we need to add a twist: when one of the contestants finally wins, it turns out the position has been canceled due to lack of funding!

Heaven is a Job in…

One of the most frustrating aspects of living in the groves of academe (not a typo, my friends, look it up) is the lack of control one seems to have over the eventual institution where one gains long term employment. I mean, who in their right mind really wants to teach at the University of Alabama? Not to bash such a fine football school, but it is hard for me to imagine myself happy at such a locale (for geographic, political, climatic, and social reasons…if you must know.) And thus I find my goals morphed into not just gaining a tenure track position in physics, but in the suicidal attempt to do so somewhere where I would be happy to live even if I wasn’t doing physics. Of course like any good quaesitum much grief and stress is reigned upon my world for being so particular. But on the good days, I like to think it could happen. And on those days I go and surf the web to find the placed where I’d love to end up.
Below I’ve assembled my dream list. The first entry, as you will see, is so pie in the sky as to be laughable (but if you are Paul Allen or Bill Gates, please do read this entry, heh), but the others are the places that keep me motivated in the political regime of acquiring a job.
Continue reading “Heaven is a Job in…”

Some Old Pictures

Here are a few old pictures which I thought I’d post.
The first is of house I recently moved into in South Pasadena, on Cawston Avenue. Apparently, Cawston was the name of the family which owned the famous ostrich farm in South Pasadena. I have looked closely at this picture and cannot find any ostrich feathers:

The second picture is of my mom at The Getty Mueseum:

The final picture is of the little stone pyramid I carved out of alabaster
This was my first attempt at carving anything. I learned that I need to buy a tool called a rasp in order to do some of the finer detail work.