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Nicole Ackerman | SLAC | USA

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End of quarter, new beginnings

Stanford finishes spring quarter incredibly late, so this is my first week without any teaching responsibilities. While I really enjoyed teaching this past quarter, it too up much more of my time than I anticipated. I had thought I would spend one day a week on campus, and perhaps half a day grading. Instead, I found myself on campus at least two days a week and grading would be a good chunk of another day.

With the end of this quarter, I am now at SLAC full time. Even before this quarter I spent a significant amount of time down on Stanford’s campus in the clean room building our detector and taking classes. Last Friday I found myself sitting at SLAC in front of the mess my desk had become, and I realized that this desk will be a second home to me for the next few years. There will be some more trips to WIPP and at least two more quarters teaching, but for at least the next year I will spend more than 80% of my work hours at that desk. So I cleaned it, and it felt great.

In addition to getting my desk organized, I’m also trying to sort out the projects that were somewhat neglected last quarter. I’ve been working on creating an electronics test stand to mimic what we are installing at WIPP. I thought it would be done over a month ago, but most of the pieces have still not come together. I hadn’t realized chasing power supplies would be too difficult to get done in 3 day weeks. I also have been thinking about a phenomenology project since January. I already did the first literature search, so now I need to begin organizing all of the papers I have on the topic and start trying to understand the details of the physics. I’m very excited about making progress on my understanding, but it requires an amount of uninterrupted concentration I have not had for many months.

Finally, I hoped to start afresh with my computer. I run Ubuntu on my laptop and one of the perks of an open-source operating system are the frequent new releases. I hadn’t yet updated to Jaunty Jackalope, which has been out for over a month. I spent the weekend backing my hard drive up and installing the new OS. I also restructured my desktop environment and was hoping to redo a few more configurations. Unfortunately I’m running into some bugs in Jaunty, so the experience hasn’t been as refreshing as I had expected.

June may be too late for “spring cleaning”, but it still managed to be a great fresh start. I look forward to a better organized, more productive schedule. And more blog posts!

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