Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cruise Control

"F##k you, f##k you, f##k you, you're cool, and f##k you, I'm out!" - Pope Benedict XVI

So the Pope popped smoke.

I honestly did not know the Pope could do that.  On the other hand... he's the Pope.  Who's going to say "no" to a Pope?

I had a long conversation with my husband last night about my job and my super hating of it.

Not as bad as this:

But pretty bad.

I have had the "flair" job.  I've also had the "wash a gas station bathroom" job.  (The condom machine was... Why?  Why would you do that???)

When I think about it, what I hate about my job is that there's no "cruise control."  You never get into the swing of ANYTHING.  You constantly have to produce new stuff to write papers to get money to produce new stuff to write papers to get money...

And most of it is just really total nonsense.  I just saw a third of a million dollar grant to measure all the ways that owl pellets are broken down by bat crap.  No joke.  Others I have seen include rotting chunks of shrimp in mud and smearing bathroom tiles with algae and watching snails eat it (and the PATTERNS that the snails make!!!)

Of course, I think it would be awesome if any elementary school or high school student did these things.  I'm not sure why NSF is funding it.

Also: I'm bad at it.  Well, I'm actually awesome at the teaching.  But the other "stuff"?  I cannot get into the mindset.

We just had a guy come from a (really, really well-funded) famous national laboratory to talk about the viability of solar energy.

After his calculations he showed we could replace fossil fuels by covering "just" 2% of the Earth's surface with semiconductors.

I raised my hand and asked "You know that 2% is the same percent of the Earth covered by all agriculture, all human civilization, roads, etc. combined?"  And he said "Yes!"

And I did not know where to go from there.  Because if you want to take the amount land space of the Earth which gradually was filled, cultivated and civilized by humans and cover it with semiconductors over the course of a few years, I'm not 100% sure what to do with you.


Long and the short of it: Pope popped smoke.


Addendum: And now I just got back from teaching, which is my favorite part of my job and I love it.  Right now I'm realizing that there was confusion in the discussion on the ability of rivers to erode and deposit sediment.  Sand erodes the most easily, but clay is actually quite difficult to erode because of its cohesion.  Once in the suspended load, however, it can travel quite far.

So much went so well.  They really understand how gravity, mass and elevation influence the energy of the river and how much work it can do.  They really seem to understand how a river can pick up and drop materials due to a change in velocity.

So that's the other message: I love to teach.  :-)

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