Random Thoughts

By JoAnne Hewett | April 4, 2006 11:46 pm

It’s taking awhile to recover from the big trip to India, and I still don’t feel up to writing my usual witty, thoughtful, full of insights, humerous, type of post. Ok, let’s just say I’m having trouble putting a coherent string of words of any type together. So here’s a list of random thoughts, crossing through my brain this evening.

If I cough just one more time, I think my brains will come out through my eyeballs! It’s literally to the point where my head hurts from all the coughing. I captured this cough while traveling in India – it’s been 4 weeks now and has actually become worse since arriving home. Went to the doctor last week, got good drugs, and the cough got worse. I am forced to cancel a trip I had scheduled later this week for a colloquium and also early next week for a conference talk.

Nonetheless, I finally did a little bit of science today. Gosh that felt good! Had a phone meeting with a group of collaborators and made the usual small step forward on a project. We are almost ready to make real progress and push to the finish. Really made my day.

Talked to my parents, and got a 5 minute lecture from my conservative father about the good congresswoman from Atlanta who attacked a Capitol Hill guard with her phone. Love my Dad dearly, but no mention of the resignation of the good congressman from Texas.

SLAC graduated another PhD student yesterday – Michael Binger. Congratulations to Michael who did a great job defending his thesis (Renormalization within QCD) and held up to the continual barrage of questions from members of the committee! The theory group celebrated with cake afterwards. And then some of us coughed our way through a fabulous dinner. Michael Binger, it turns out, has a fantastic wine collection and brought some special bottles to celebrate the occasion. Only in my dreams do such bottles occupy my wine cellar. Michael will be taking a year off to pursue his hobby/real job (he’s a professional poker player and does well enough to buy spectacular wine) before settling into a physics career.

I still have weird eating habits after being in India for so long. Last week, I couldn’t eat at all. Absolutely no appetite. This week I am eating things in binges. Tonight was brussel sprouts. The entire box. Ok, maybe I shouldn’t admit that.

Along with the brussel sprouts I forced down an omelette. The most amazing thing was how well it cooked! You see, everybody pitched in and bought me a bunch of really good pans for Christmas. The entire rest of my life, I’ve used pans that I got with grocery store stamps while I was a graduate student! After the omelette experience, I can now say with all definitity, that really good pans make a difference.

I was away for 3 weeks and all sorts of things happened physics-wise. Things like that never happen while I’m home scouring the news! Mixing of what we call the B_sub_s meson was discovered. I’ve been waiting for that result for , well, 20 years!!! And now that the result is in, it’s anti-climatic since the measured value is exactly what the Standard Model of particle physics predicts. yawn…. But, then there’s the supposed axion discovery. Now, that’s potentially exciting!!! I know little about the experiment, but asked a colleague today for his opinion – he didn’t have a good answer, so I have to talk to Helen Quinn tomorrow. She’ll know.

The owls took advantage of my absence and moved back into my attic. This is an on-going battle, and is most likely the topic of a future post.

I am just starting to sort through my pictures of India. My magic camera performed superbly! Aren’t you glad you don’t have to do this much laundry!

And, how about chicken anyone?

  • http://eskesthai.blogspot.com/2006/04/strangelets-do-not-exist.html Plato

    Hi Joanne,

    welcome back.

    the two images are to large, try 260 in width, and if still no index to right, try less

  • http://eskesthai.blogspot.com/2006/04/strangelets-do-not-exist.html Plato

    Clifford’s image below is approx 460 in width, so two images at 230 in width, would suffice I think.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/clifford/ Clifford

    Wha..? Brussel Sprouts out of a box? (Weird Northern Californians…..) JoAnne, these are food crimes you are committing here. Come down here for the weekend…you need a friend to cook some proper meals for you and get you back on track. Bring the pans. I’m sure I can rustle up some friends to help consume the food…. At this rate I’ll hear you’re drinking wine from a box and then it’s time for the first Cosmic Variance Intervention.


  • http://countiblis.blogspot.com Count Iblis

    I also suffered from a cough when I was in India a few years ago for about 6 weeks. There is so much air pollution in India that it is a miracle that the airways and lungs can function normally there.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/joanne/ JoAnne

    Plato – fixed. The pictures always look fine on my browser so I can never tell.

    Clifford, I know, I know – I committed mortal sin! Real sprouts would have meant a trip to the store in the rain, while coughing, uphill both ways.

  • http://eskesthai.blogspot.com/2006/04/strangelets-do-not-exist.html Plato

    I know you have lots of help, but one last thing, is if you want to see the pictures larger?

    The should have the original picture as a img reference url, in front of of course bracked as well. This opens the picture into another screen, where you just use the back browser to bring you back to cosmic variance.

    Sean and Clifford will know what I mean. I referenced target=_blank and Sean thought that not a good idea to open in new window.

  • http://eskesthai.blogspot.com/2006/03/mendeleevs-table-in-new-light.html I, Robot

    signs of new life emerge as images photonically flicker in the new logic forming apparatus

    I had a dream….

    –html tagging did not show up in post above, so, a href (original picture)in front of img src (original picture and sized)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/joanne/ JoAnne

    PS To Clifford: If you ever catch me drinking that stuff that is misrepresented as wine and pours out of a box, then please take me out to a pasture and shoot me! I will obviously need to be taken out of my misery.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/clifford/ Clifford

    Well, we’ll try the Intervention first. Perhaps a trip to Sanford and Foxen to snap you back into your senses…?

    Failing that, then I get out the gun…. It would be quick and merciful, in view of your past services to Good Wine Awareness.


  • Elliot

    Let me humbly recommend some tea to settle down the cough. I think Slippery Elm is the recommended herbal variety for this.


    (I’m confused was it wine or brussel sprouts from the box or is this one of those very rare but permissible quantum events where brussel sprouts spontaneously turn into wine or visa versa)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/clifford/ Clifford

    Frankly, I’m more appalled by the idea of Brussel sprouts from a box. But then, I am just a simple country boy, and evidently lead a sheltered life, having never seen such a thing….


  • JoAnne

    Wine doesn’t come in boxes….

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/clifford/ Clifford

    Nor do Brussel sprouts….

  • Elliot


    Well I hate to say it but it actually does. I just saw it at Wild Oats. Supposedly more environmentally friendly packaging with about 25% more wine for the dollar. Of course I haven’t tasted it…yet…


    (sound of lots of people throwing things at their computer screens in disgust.)

  • JoAnne

    Hmmmm… Elliot, outside of graduate students and my 80-yr old aunt, it’s difficult to imagine sentient beings describing the beverage you purchased as wine. You’ll have to let us know what you think and how it compares to boxed brussel sprouts once you taste it!

  • Elliot


    To be precise, I did not “purchase” it. I simply saw it on display. Still contemplating that purchase decision for this particular product.

  • Spatulated

    do it. for the sake of experimentation!

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/joanne/ JoAnne

    I agree! CV readers want to know…

  • Elliot

    Alright I will take one here for the team. I’ll report back with results. 😉

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    I’m still not convinced Brussel Sprouts are even edible! I think I would rather eat the box…

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/clifford/ Clifford

    Brussel Sprouts are wonderful. Get ’em fresh and prepare ’em right, and you’ll be begging for more…


  • Elliot

    Ditto on the Brussel Sprouts.

    Just steam em. or slow saute’ with garlic and olive oil.

    Throw the leftovers in your salad the next day.


    I may need to eat some after I try the wine in the box to “freshen my palate”…

  • http://gordonwatts.wordpress.com Gordon Watts

    Ha! I was also recently in India (http://www.flickr.com/photos/gordonwatts/sets/72057594063078240/). I got sick (I didn’t realize my body to produce fluids that color!!), but thank goodness it was over and done with in two days. Good luck getting better!

  • http://countiblis.blogspot.com Count Iblis

    Once I got sick in India on the very day I had to fly back home. I had severe diarrhoea and I couldn’t eat much. I called a doctor and he gave me a bag full of drugs. Every hour I had to take two pills (some sort of antibiotic). If I felt like vomiting, then I had to take another pill to counter that.

    I did manage to catch my flight from Mumbai airport home, but I was completely drained of energy. The diarrhoea had stopped just two hours before my plane left. I had almost run out of the toiletpaper I had taken with me from the hotel.

    The anti-vomiting pills didn’t work so well. I was feeling extremely hungry at the airport but when I tried swallow food that hunger feeling would suddenly disappear and I would feel extremely sick.

  • Pingback: Does wine come in boxes? | Cosmic Variance()

  • http://michaeldunn.blogspot.com Michael D

    Must be something about California, I’ve heard you’ll find some quite drinkable Australian ‘cask’ wines down here. Of course, you have to be particular in your choices.

    The wine cask, affectionately known as a “goon bag” or just “goon” (something to do with the silver bag that’s inside the box) is usually found at College Kids’ parties and those after a more ‘affordable’ drop.

    Although, I guess if you wanted affordable and good, you could try cleanskins.



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