I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me

Evidently I (( Or, more likely, someone with the same name. )) am on some sort of government watch list.
The consequences of said listing seems to be limited to merely being required to get a boarding pass at the gate when flying, rather than being able to check in online. Naturally, this ends up with me being the last person on the flight. Somewhat annoying, but at least it doesn’t involve probulation or anything.
DHS has some cutesy-name appeals process (“Traveler Redress Inquiry Program” or “TRIP“) to explicitly whitelist a falsely-flagged individual. As annoyed as I am with the existence of the DHS, the TSA, and the process, I sent off the necessary paperwork and things should be cleared up in the next few months.
I wonder what could have caused this flagging to exist. I blog under a pseudonym, and in real life am an ordinary law-abiding guy. Of course, I was in the military for a few years, own firearms, use and strongly advocate the use of strong cryptography, have formal education in physics, and am applying to graduate programs in physics outside the US. I suppose that could be suspicious, but I doubt it’d result in something as minor as slight delays at checking in at the airport.

Cold Feet

I was in MA for Christmas with the in-laws.
It blizzarded (( That is now a verb. )).
Evidently standard socks and Doc Marten shoes don’t count for much when it comes to insulation. Brr.
Observe my frigid wife:

Also related, wool hats are made in hilarious fashions:

In related news, my father-in-law is an Environmental Police Officer, and so gets some fun toys ((Nearly all stuff confiscated from law-breakers and the like, though some of his own things.)) until they go off to evidence ((He works mostly from home, and takes stuff down to the station every week or so.)). Lots of old Mausers and the like. Way cool.

Some Apps Out

I’ve been submitting graduate school applications like crazy, and have submitted several.
In the past, I’ve normally waited until just before the deadline, but I’ve decided to get things out early — the application to the University of Oregon got out within a week of the opening of the application period, and the applications to schools in Sweden were out within a day of the period opening. International mail, while usually reliable, can be somewhat delayed, so my applications to schools overseas are getting sent out early to avoid any such problems.
In less then a year, I may have to change the name here to “The Swiss Rifleman”. Now there’s a thought…

It’s a Small Step…

…from robots cleaning your living room to robots cleaning the Earth of humanity.
I’m staying at a friend’s place this week, and there’s an iRobot Scooba driving around the living room cleaning.
As amazing and futuristic as this is, it’s somewhat creepy.


Note to self: get someone else to proofread the letters and statements I’m sending to graduate schools.
Somehow I managed to mash together the username for one’s departmental email address and the domain for the main, non-departmental email service from the university (resulting in a syntactically-correct but non-existent) in a cover letter.
I didn’t catch it in my own proofreading, as my brain mentally divided the email into the username and domain parts, and didn’t notice the mismatch. Now I have to write an email to the graduate school apologizing for any confusion and sending them the correct address.

On Cyber-Anything

Once again, the news is blathering on about “Cyber Monday” and how a bunch of online retailers are expecting lots of shoppers.
Whether or not those shoppers materialize is still up for debate (the day is young, after all), but I will not be among them.
This is two-fold:

  • I already have too much stuff. I’m looking at getting rid of most of my stuff, either by selling or donating it to those who need it more, and living a simpler, less-cluttered existence.
  • Things prefixed with “cyber” irritate me nearly as much as describing the internet as an “information superhighway”, let alone calling it a “series of tubes“. Anyone referring to anything as “cyber-something” should go die in a fire.


Starting a carbureted engine after a cold-soak of several days, when it’s only a few degrees above freezing, is remarkably challenging. Riding the two-wheeled vehicle propelled by said engine is similarly unpleasant.
In related news, it’s damn cold in Tucson. Denizens of the Great White North may laugh and doff their jackets when it’s 34F outside, but down here, this is We’re-All-Going-To-Die cold.

No Rest for the Weary

After months of mad studying for the Physics GRE, I’m now applying to graduate schools. One of the steps involved perusing the various university websites getting information about costs, deadlines, etc.
Nearly all of the schools had deadlines in mid-January, while some Swiss schools had deadlines in April. Cool.
About two-thirds of the way down the list, I come across the University of Oslo. Their deadline is the 1st of December. I need to step things up to get the application out and in the mail before the deadline. No pressure, right?


I simultaneously have Mad Scientist Hair and a Beard of Laziness +2.
Being that the Physics GRE is this weekend, I really don’t care. I’m barely willing to don pants for work on a good day; asking me to maintain hair in a presentable way for this week is completely out of the question.

On Graduate Schools

I’m looking at graduate schools overseas, including schools in Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, Australia, and Switzerland.
Any readers study overseas? If so, any advice would be most welcome.
I’ve been focusing on Swiss universities due to their proximity to CERN, as well as being quite enthralled with the country, the cities, and the people when I traveled there in the past. Gorgeous country, and it looks like a great place to live and study. It looks like there’s a not-insubstantial amount of paperwork to study there (let alone work there), but I imagine that’s pretty common and not a huge hurdle to overcome. Any advice with dealing with it? I imagine the local consulate is a good place to get information, but I figure that some people have more advice.
I’ve got a friend in Sweden who can help out with some aspects of moving and settling in (e.g. getting a phone, driver’s license, get acclimated to things, etc.), but things are different for foreigners than residents in many places, and I’d hate to screw things up in some way.
Moving domestically is hard enough. Moving internationally is likely to be a bit harder. Fortunately, I’m not the only prospective grad student to consider studying overseas, so I’m sure there’s procedures and whatnot. Now, I just need to start getting applications out…