Monday, April 03, 2006

Another weekend bites the dust

Well, not entirely, but it sure did bite more dust than it should have in an Ideal world. But let's get to that later.

I remember a recent conversation with my cousin (who is currently enjoying the good life in NYC). I told him about my social life here, or lack therof. I tried to tell him that I was well on the way to achieving a social life of sorts here - a white lie. For, after all, I am a graduate student. A PhD. Everybody knows that a PhD does not have a social life - especially when he/she is undergoing the PhD!

I'm in the library with the laptop now. I'm downloading midis of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies and listening to them in winamp, with the hope that I shall bump into that memorable peice that Fred Quimby and Co. used in that Tom and Jerry episode. I can tell you at this point in time, that Rhapsody #12 is certainly not the one. But it is a beautiful piece. I'm having fun listening to it.

The Idea was to do some good work in the weekend. But, research work is one obstinate little thing. You can't just decide to do work. Everything has to click, or else it is back to the drawing board. Case in point: I downloaded and amazing paper (or so I thought). Using the results in the paper, I could make my order-of-magnitude estimates quite well, I thought. But, when I hit the calculator, the results just do not compare with intuiton. The weekend was spent in a bad temper, trying to analyze these conflicting results. And finally, a conclusion was reached: more papers needed!

I had some pending TA work in the morning. It, I am relieved to say, pends no more. In stark contrast with research work, TA work is very predictable. A rather perverse analogy with fluid mechanics comes to mind. Research work is like turbulent flow: you really have no idea what is going to happen. TA work is as deterministic as laminar flow. The questions will be corrected, subtly sarcastic comments will be written (by self) on the answer scripts, grades will be input into the computer, webct (ideally) will be updated. This will roughly take 6 hours in all. And students will request an incremental point in class ... 40% of these requests will be denied. Students will curse (under their breath) and await that TA evaluation day.

I drove around a residential colony yesterday with another of my cousins. Driving here in the USA is a pleasure. I was intrigued by how sensitive the car was to my command. I had to get used to driving on the right side of the road - no big deal now .. after all, it's been eight months since I came here. I also do understand that more opportunities to tour open up once a car and a license are procured. Hope that happens soon.

And now I digress again. The classic Tom and Jerry peice is indeed Rhapsody #2.

I'll sign off and get back to 'research' work. Turbulence this time. The professor has converted some of the predictable class work into research work. Fun, I must add, lest I be misunderstood.


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