-- C.A. Beard
On last month's Fix;
the answer to last month's Fix,
"All those whose last name starts with A-L supply a brief bio of themseleves."is
By sheer luck, Kevin Flynn chose this moment to drop me a line, and raise the same point - namely, where are people at now? And further, I got an invite to my 15'th HS Reunion. Talk about timeliness.
Anyway, Kevin bio'ed the MSU group, and my friends in Detroit couldn't get the call for bios so I'll let those folks off till the next issue.
On Mad Cow Disease;
The other night, some MDs and I were at a Pub. The staff neuro surgeon raised an interesting point. It turns out that the Mad Cow Disease that is afflicting the Beef herd in Britain has a human analog, Creutzfelt-Jacob Disease, which is a neuro tissue infection that kills humans. The disease is passed from cow to human by eating insufficiently cooked neuro tissue, usually in ground beef.
There is a move afoot to wipe out the entire British herd because of this, but the cows themselves get the disease because they are fed sheep offal, and an organism called scabies in the sheep brain and spinal tissue (which is mostly harmless to the sheep) becomes Mad Cow Disease in the cow.
So the question is, why destroy the beef herd if you don't also alter the feedstock given the beef? As of yet there has been no call to wipe out the sheep herd which has been known to be scabies infested for at least 200 years.
Kevin Flynn asked me whether I thought the PhD was worth it. I thought I'd take the time to rehash that issue. For those of you who don't know, in the Fall of 1986, 52 of us started grad School at MSU. To my knowledge, two Caucasions succeeded, Rich Astur and Liz Gallas. I don't know where they are now.
Howden, Flynn, Willie, Dorsey, Karn, Brodbar, Gebhardt, and some others whose names escape me all left physics. Markowitz, Johnson, Rutt and I fled to other schools to continue in the Grail Quest, me in medical physics, the others in nuclear. We all got our Phuds, and with the exception of Markowitz, we're all still single. I don't know what it is, but the run for the Physics Phud is great for birth control. Also, I think (correct me if I'm wrong) we're all nomads in search of a permanent job. Maybe those two are related. In my experience, the women I've met are either equally carreer focussed and believe that a relationship would blow it (i.e. Brenda, the girl Kevin recalls from MSU), or they want the attention and stability that I'm not in a position to supply yet.
Was it worth it? Tough to answer since it is still a work in progress. Mostly, I'd say no. Last week several people were interviewed to replace me here. I got to take them out to lunch. Two were pure Physics Phuds, one a 38 year old High Energy guy (PhD UW Madison) comtemplating his 4'th post-doc with 38 first author papers in Phys Rev D. He cannot land a permanent job and has a wife and 2 kids in tow. The other was 33, married, 3 kids, a Penn State nuke PhD, and was cut from the Naval Research Labs civilian work force.
None of us went into physics expecting riches from it. I just wanted a comfortable life, get to do fun things, and maybe uncover a little more of how the universe works. Bzzzzzt. Wrong answer. The only physics Phud worth anything now is something that has immediate commercial relevance: materials science, lasers and optics, complex system modeling. Nor is medical physics a great choice. Each month there are about 9 therapy positions and 3 diagnostic (my area) listed. Figure on 2~300 applicants per posting. As recently as five years ago, industry was keen on getting MR physicists to invent new MRI systems. No longer. The Clinton Health Plan spectre caused all diagnostic companies to gut their research groups. I am actually broadening my job search to all English speaking nations - out of necessity.
There is no way I would councel a high school senior to go into physics today. If (s)he wants money, (s)he should go to a top 10 law or med school and graduate in the top 1/5 of his class. If he wants to do interesting stuff, go to a good engineering school like MIT or CalTech. If he wants a little less money, but get out of school and enjoy life while he's still young enough to, get a degree in Physical Therapy or Nurse Anesthesiology.
Just my $.02
>From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Apr 9 22:12:57 1996 Date: 09 Apr 96 22:09:48 EDT From: "Kevin F. Flynn" <email@example.com> Langster, Let me give you a brief synopsis of what I've done since we last talked out in VA when you interviewed with GE. I kept working for GE for 5 years as a maintenance programmer. I fixed software bugs on a large real-time system, all written in IBM 370 assembler (how exciting). The last year that I was there, I did enough C programming to become proficient, and got a job for a small start up company in Columbus, OH (fall 1993). The company name is HUBLink, and they sell a software integration product that allows the various clinical systems in a hospital to pass information. I was hired as a programmer, and eventually moved into an installation/project management role. I was flying around the country installing the system (UNIX based, written in C). That job was fairly interesting, especially since health care is an exciting field nowadays. While there, I became proficient in various communications protocols, especially LU62. After about a year, I was looking for some more responsibility but couldn't find any since the company was so young. That led to me to my 3rd job since MSU, (my current job), directing a client/server team at CBC Companies (we sell credit reports). Its pretty much the same kind of stuff... software development, project mgmt, numerous communications protocols etc., but more responsiblity and bigger projects. Each job at its best, has always been just a job. I've never felt like I have found my "Career". Thats perhaps my biggest regret about leaving MSU and not pursuing the PhD. I felt that I would have had a career if I had stayed in physics, instead of just a job. I'm glad I left though because I never would have had the stamina to stick with it as long as you guys did. As for my personal life, I married Monica (whom I was dating all through MSU) about 1 week after I graduated with my MS. We moved to VA, me to work at GE, and her to complete her 4 year term with the USAF. After 3 of the 4 years, and the birth of our 3rd child, we petitioned for an early release and received it. (Fall 1992) It took me another year to finally get a job in Columbus, where Monica's family is. Since moving, I'm on my second job, and 5th child (due July 1996). What ever happened with that girl you were dating when we graduated? I remember eating dinner with you and her while you were in DC for a week. (She was wearing a "Dukakis" button at the dinner table, so after reading a few of your articles I'm guessing that you didn't marry her.) Other than you and John Johnson, I haven't been able to find out about anybody from MSU. The last PPSA mag that I got, I remember reading an article that you wrote about completing your work at Oakland Univ. (What was your PhD in? Medical Physics?) I know that you got a PhD, and I think that John did, but what happened to everyone else? Here is the last info that I knew about: - Paul Rutt, John Johnson, Steve Howden, and Karl Gebhardt all received A's on the qualifying exam. What happened after that I don't know, but recall reading some negative commentaries in PPSA about the MSU Physics dept. - Paul Dorsey transfered to NorthEastern for an attempt at a Master's in either Eng or computer science. - Debbie Brodbar got a job at Physics Today (or some magazine) and was still there as of 1993 or so. - Karl (and his then girlfriend Keitha) came and visited me out in VA about 18 months after I graduated (early 1990). Karl informed me that Dr. Tim Beers (my advisor) had gotten a divorce, and was dating again. - Joe Willie (after failing the qualifying exam 4 times) attempted to transfer to the ENG dept, and quit after he ran out of money. Last I heard he had moved back in with his mom in NY somewhere. - I recall reading some news about Pete Markowitz (wedding and some other stuff) at William and Mary. I still remember how his locker smelled at MSU, and how he use to beat the crap out of his dog. I also remember an awesome halloween party at Pete's & John's apt. when a Vietnamese girl named Hahn came dressed as a kitten (or should I say pussy). - Sent Email to Paul Rutt and various others using the addresses listed in the April 1994 PPSA mag, but never got any responses other than John. Here are some of my fond MSU memories: - Eating Peking Duck and drinking beer at your apt toward the end of our tenure. - Having a kegger at my apt, and attempting to finish the rest of the keg during the week while going to school. (I can't believe we bought a 1/2 barrel for about 15 people) - Steve Howden's bachelor party when he bolted out the front door of the establishement without a shirt on, and ran all the way home. - Going to the bar across the street from the P&A bldg right after my last class (around 11:00AM), and not leaving until the end of the Piston's playoff game, around 12:00PM. - Weighing 215 pounds and lifting weights everyday for 2 hours. (currently weigh 175) - Playing hockey on the lake outside Debbie Brodbar's apt. - Dialing up the American Physical Society's bulletin board on my 1200 baud external modem, and KayPro "portable" computer with the following features: weight: 30 pounds Disk 10 Meg Mem 640K Monitor 7 inch - Giving you shit about drinking wine coolers instead of beer at my apt. (and then arguing about the alcohol content of each for about 2 hours.) Write me and answer some of these questions if you have time. I'm still having trouble getting into the PPSA home page, I may need a new version of Mosaic. Kevin
2. Texas Tom writes;
>From ApogeeTom@aol.com Fri Apr 19 14:33:39 1996 >"A short bio for those whose last name starts with A-L. For those >who don't respond, I'll write one for you ..." Tom Hall. Age 31. Key Events: Born in Waukesha, WI. Pooped on back porch. Went to Hickory Grove Grade School. Discovered masturbation. Went to Glen Park Middle School. Saw Star Wars. Went to New Berlin High School. Began playing Frisbee golf. Went to University of Wisconsin--Madison. Met Steve Langer. Went to work for Softdisk, Inc. Realized Shreveport blows. Co-founded id software--made Commander Keen, Wolfenstein, DOOM. Switched from Pepsi to Diet Pepsi to Pepsi to Iced Tea (no lemon, no spoon). Left id software to start up in-house development at Apogee/3D Realms. Met Misti. Life is good. --Tom P.S. I may have skipped a few things in there, but that'll do.
3. David Gay writes from across the pond.
>From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Apr 23 06:26:43 1996 Hi Steve, A long time ago and in a place far far away (at least from where I am now), I lived in Michigan and several other places (TX OH IL NY). Eventually, I earned a BS at Mich. Tech. Univ. in the first year of Dr. Bob (1981). After MTU, I headed off for Minnesota with my wife, where I worked on a degree in experimental intermediate nuclear physics. I did not like the university and I did not see much future in nuclear physics either, so I started my own computer company. For 5 years I was a system manager, programmer, troubleshooter and adviser to several small companies in the Twin Cities area. Eventually, I became bored with writing accounting software and decided it was time to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. I eventually decided to return to MTU and get my PhD in computational physics. This is where I met Charles Scripter and through him the editor of this newsletter. After finishing my PhD (1991) I took a postdoc at The Royal Institution of Great Britain. I have been here since then working on modelling surfaces of materials. I also have been enjoying the great beer they have over here! On the not really lighter side: Recently, the IRA was trying to plant a bomb in London, and the person who was doing it was killed on a bus by his own bomb. They use the football (soccer) term "own goal" to describe this. On the day they buried the bomber, they IRA held their own memorial service. One of the IRA leaders said, "It is a sad day when an Irishman has to die for the cause." The saddest thing is that he did not have to die! Note: The majority (65-80% I think) of people living in Northern Ireland would like to continue being part of the United Kingdom instead of joining the Republic of Ireland. -- David H. Gay email: email@example.com Royal Institution of Great Britain http://www.ri.ac.uk/DFRL/D.H.Gay 21 Albemarle Street Phone: +44 (0)171-409-2992 LONDON W1X 4BS, UK Fax: +44 (0)171-629-3569 *** "640K ought to be enough for anybody" -- Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, 1981 Current catalog of Microsoft applications that will run in less than 640K follows...
4. Sheryl writes;
>From RSC!RSC!SHERYLQ@scc.attmail.com Tue Apr 23 15:12:18 1996 No exciting news from my end. I did just have a enlightened travel experience. I flew to Arizona on America West which was a new experience since I have always been a true Northwest Airlines fan. When I was waiting at the gate to board the airline personnel says, "Attention all of those who are waiting to board flight 586 to Phoenix. We are now providing snack sacks as a convenience to all of our travelers. Please pick one up on your way into the airplane. All snacks are the same and we would appreciate it if you would only take one." I don't know if you find this humurous but I was actually quite pleased by this announcement. I thought to myself at least you know right away that you are only getting a dried out ham sandwich and a package of raisins instead of waiting till mid flight and discovering the so called "lunch" on your travel itinerary is just a small package of peanuts. Sheryl
5. Lee writes from Michigan Tech
>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Apr 25 18:08:51 1996 From: Lee Howard
Steve, You asked for a short bio, so here it is: Bio Info: Some call Him, Lee, other call Him Birk. I am an undergrad working towards a degree in electrical engineering and in physics at Michigan Tech. I spend my 'spare' time maintaining a well-rounded personality, which means that I am president of the PFRC (the local science fiction group) and the local branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism, not to mention work as a music director at the school radio station. I also homebrew, hunt, and try to further libertarian ideals when I can. And for completeness I consider myself Taoist, despite the facts that I was raised an independent Baptist and I have no eastern blood in me. Another thing that I would like to mention is the Republic of Texas movement. It seems that there is a fairly healthy movement to restore Texas to as an independent and souvereign nation, which has been quite successful to date. By successful I mean that the Republic of Texas has been recognized as a souvereign nation by the ICJ. For further information check out http://www.flash.com/~robertk which has all the important information and is updated fairly regular (at least every couple of weeks). Is there anyone in Texas that can fill us in on how large and well recieved the movement actually is? Finally, to help maintain my Superior Image a short anecdote. Our local SCA group held an event on April 20th, where I taught several people how to make and use slings. To practice we drove out to the shore of Lake Superior, where we disembarked. I strode out in a wool tunic and a pair of drawstring leather shoes, and commenced to stomp around and throw rocks. As we prepared to leave one of the people commented, "I never thought of going back home to Minnesota as going back to where it is warm before this."
Labor Secy Robert Reich on This Week With David Brinkley, April 14.
2. In light of Robert Reich's comments, a multiple choice test - short answer:
2. St. Paul, 25 April: DFL (Dem-Farm-Labor) Sen. Skip Finn, agreed to resign in July after his conviction on embezzling $1.1 million from the state band of Ojibwe Indian's trust fund, which Finn administered. The DFL leadership, which controls both houses, decided not to indict Finn until his resignation, to avoid having a convicted felon on thge state Senate.
3. St. Paul, 25 April: DFL Sen. Florian Shimalevski has also been convicted of allowing himself and family members to rack up several thousand dollars in personal long distance bills on the state phone system. Shimalevski says he intends to run for reelection.
Kavorkian was aquitted on two earlier trials of physician assisted suicide under a temporary state law that was enacted specifically to stop him ( Ed: Can we say ex-post-facto?). Defense attorney Feiger attacked Dragovic's statement that the deaths were homicides, "How does what Dr. Kavorkian did differ from a Dr. removing a patient from life support?"
"You're mixing apples and oranges", replied Dragovic. "These women were not on life support and left alone they would have lived for years. Kavorkian essentially put a gun to these women's heads, and then helped pull the trigger. It's making sure that they died that makes this a homicide, not suicide."
"You have reached the New York City Police Dept. For a real emergency dial 119. Anyone else, we're having donuts and coffee, a lot of coffee - and masturbating. Just hold the line, we'll get back to you."
The NYPD had no explanation for how the message got on their machine.
2. NY City, April 24: The sale of Jackie Kennedy Onassis' memoralbilia collection at Suthebys auction brought in much more money than anyone expected. A book of conjugated French verbs fetched $41K, John F.'s desk went for $1.4 million, and a cigar humidor went for $500K.
Ed: No doubt these items were bought by evil rich Reps, since Dems, being in touch with the poor, would not have access to this much cash.
3. 30 April: The UN has announced that it is officially broke and going into debt due to non-payment by member nations, including the US.
2. Wash. D.C., 20 April: The Freedom Forum, a bi-partisan polling group, reports that 51% of journalists call themselves Dems, 4% Rep. and the remainder call themselves "independant."
Ed: Of course an old girlfiriend of mine called herself independant. She worked for Americans for Democratic Action, Peter Hart (a Dem. pollster), was on the reelection campaign of Sen. Bob Kerry (D, NE), and didn't vote for a Rep. in the five years I knew her. This is how liberals define "independant."
3. 30 April: Clinton has annouced that he will attempt to ease the gasoline price hikes of the past month by "flooding" the US market with 12 Million gallons of crude from the nation's petrolium reserve. This sounds impressice until you realize that 12 million gallons is less than one day's US refinery needs.