April 30, 2009, 8:29 a.m. by Paul Stiverson
So, yesterday I got the best email I’ve probably ever gotten.
> Paul Stiverson:
> CONGRATULATIONS! All of your manuscript corrections are done and your forms have been received. You are cleared by the Thesis Office.
> Thank you.
What this means is that I am all the way done with my Master’s degree, all I have left to do is walk across the stage. If you would like to read my thesis it is [available on this site](http://thismatters.net/research/thesis.pdf).
For those who are unaware, I have been offered another summer position at [Ames](http://www.arc.nasa.gov/), so I will be leaving for California very shortly after the aforementioned stage walking. I am excited to be going back, I sort of need a vacation from school.
Sorry I haven’t posted much lately, I would say that I’ve been too busy, but really I’ve been too lazy. I promise to make some good posts soon.
Sea Town, Here I Come!
March 22, 2009, 10:22 p.m. by Sam
I'm going to Seattle tomorrow morning. I'm going to be getting a physical for a job I hope to get. Don't ask me why I have to go to Seattle to get the physical--that's just what my travel orders state. Getting asked to get a physical means I'm quite a bit closer to landing my dream job, provided that I pass the physical and that at least one other person does not pass the physical, which may be the case, since they don't ask you to get it unless someone else failed or is disqualified.
Even though I'm only going to be there for a few days and it'll be mostly sitting in a doctor's office, I'm pretty excited. The only other time I was in Seattle was a far-too-long layover in the Sea-Tac airport in the middle of the night with nothing to eat but fast food. This time I might get a little time to see the city.
I'm also stoked about getting a three day extension on spring break. I need a rest from SXSW!
Update (Re: Options)
Feb. 16, 2009, 1:28 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
I [previously posted](http://thismatters.net/ramblings/comment.php?post_id=220) that I was considering quitting graduate school after finishing my Master’s degree. I’m happy to say that I have decided against that plan. My new advisor was able to pull some strings at NASA and get them to open up a fellowship position for me which led to a significant pay increase from my previous salary so I am in a much better financial situation than before. I’m still looking forward to teaching full (or at least mostly full) time, but I can put it off a few more years and muscle through my doctorate. In the interim I will continue to tutor and keep applying to be a lecturer here in the Mechanical Engineering department. As far as research goes I am enjoying my current topic a lot more now that I have funding and time to work on it, but will keep looking for a new and exciting topic for my Ph.D.
As part of this development I took my qualifying exams (or [prelims](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preliminary_examination) if you will) last week. I’m happy to announce that I passed them both on the first attempt, so I am now qualified to start Doctoral work.
power to the proletariat
Dec. 19, 2008, 3:14 p.m. by Lew
At my work like many other business places things have been tougher over the last few months. There seems to be new bad news trickling down from our corporate parents every couple of weeks that results in us getting it in the shorts. At first everyone is pissed when a new piece of bad news falls in our laps. We are outraged then the next next everyone shrugs, says “at least we have jobs” puts their nose down and gets back to work. That is b.s. in my view. I think the higher ups are fully aware of this average reaction to bad news and are using the situation to chip away at their commitments to the employees while we are vulnerable. There is not much confidence in the economy right now but truly not much has changed from a few months ago. People are still making stuff and selling it to other people. The attitude has changed, working folks feel vulnerable and can be bullied a little bit without putting up a fight. I am new to the work force, but I am sure this method of peeling back wages and benefits is nothing new. It disturbs me to see this corporate reality and makes me wonder what is being done to people elsewhere who are more vulnerable who don't deserve to be pushed around.
please note that I am equally incensed by dumbass employees who bitch about everything the benefits they think they deserve when they haven't done anything to earn it. Working at a business is very different than anything I have done before and is quite eye opening. It make academia seem removed. Everything is about profit of course, that is obvious. But in a company people are forced together and have to invent a culture that lets them get along. Maybe some companies pick people with a culture in mind, but large ones like mine just need qualified people. Give the surveillance tapes to a sociologist (or better yet a primate zoologist) and I bet we could learn a lot about human animal behavior.
a brief note on neckwear, pt. 1
Dec. 7, 2008, 9:15 p.m. by Sam
I've noticed that almost none of the male teachers at my school wear ties. I can only recall seeing one teacher wear one, and usually only the principal and AP's wear them. I firmly believe that when you dress nicer, you will perform better and be perceived as being more professional. I think part of the problem with my low-performing, academically unacceptable school is that the teachers take no pride in their work and it shows in their dress. Casual Friday, at least at my school, now means bluejeans, any grungy old t-shirt, and flip flops. (On Fridays, I wear whatever I would wear every other day of the week, but with jeans in place of slacks.) In an effort to look more professional at school and to get the principals' attention, I've started wearing ties, and it's working. The students are slightly more respectful, teachers have told me how nice I look and the principals now say good morning to me.
I only have a handful of modern, fashionable ties, but slowly making my collection larger. Good ties cost as much or more than a good shirt, but can be well worth the cost. Your tie should be darker than your shirt and should have similar colors, unless you're wearing a solid white or light colored shirt, in which case your tie can be almost any color. Note how the tie in the photo picks up the gold lines on the shirt. Current fashion dictates that your tie be patterned and not solid. The monochrome look went out in the early 2000s, but go ahead and hang onto those ties as they'll likely become fashionable again in 10-15 years. Patterns may be like the one shown here (but a little less shiny), or diagonal stripes. You should never wear a tie with images or pictures unless it's to your goofy office holiday party. The tip of your tie should just touch the top of your belt--no longer, no shorter. Your tie should be silk. Wool and polyester ties have not been in fashion for a long time, and hopefully never will be again. Unless you're going in costume as a 70s sleaze, your tie should not be very wide. Unless you're a jazz musician, your tie should not be very thin. A good rule of thumb is that your tie should be as wide as your lapel if you're wearing a jacket, and luckily for you, dear reader, almost all ties sold in stores are of the preferred standard width.
There are a variety of knots which may be used. The most common is the four-in-hand knot, the one your father likely taught you when you were 12 and attending your first wedding. This knot is good and versatile, but other knots can be more appropriate for certain shirts and situations. In a more formal situation, a half- or full-windsor is more appropriate. The knot in the photo is a full-windsor. It leaves a wide, symmetrical triangle as opposed to the thin, slightly lopsided four-in-hand. This knot also works well for wide collars and for gentlemen of a larger frame, such as myself.
Bow ties are another option. They should be worn with a tux, obviously, but can also be worn in any other situation which requires a tie, but with discretion. If you're very skinny or very corpulent, a bow tie will only make you look skinnier or fatter. If you choose to wear a bow tie to work, make sure you're the only one in your office or workplace who does. If you can pull of a bow tie, you can be the "bow tie guy", which, when done correctly, allows other people you don't interact with daily to remember who you are. If you can't pull off a bow tie, you will be known as "_that guy_ with a bow tie", who you do not want to be. I'm going to buy a bow tie this week and see if I can pull it off.
third place is the third winner
Oct. 8, 2008, 9:55 a.m. by Lew
Bask in the glory of my bronze medal winning 'stache!
edit: are you thoroughly basking in the glory?!
Sept. 29, 2008, 3:28 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
For some time now I’ve entertained the notion of getting my doctorate and going to teach somewhere, lately though—and especially considering my poor financial situation—I’ve become less enthusiastic about it. If you don’t mind I’m going to do some analysis of my situation (if you do mind then skip this post, I’m doing it anyway).
Getting a Ph.D. means about 4 more years of education, this in-and-of-itself is a good thing. I like school, and I’ve never had too tough a time with it. Staying in school lets me stay in College Station (or allows me to move just as easily), which is nice because I really like it here. Going for the gusto also means four more years of research, this is the rub, I don’t derive a great deal of pleasure from research—it could be that I haven’t found an engaging subject or any host of other issues, but the fact stands that I don’t get as much out of it as I do from other things, namely teaching. The whole reason that I initially wanted a Ph.D. was that it would allow me to teach at a major university, without the teaching aspect I never would have wanted a doctorate. The other major drawback to getting a doctorate is funding, right now funding is pretty sparse unless you are doing work for an oil company or in defense applications. Since I have ethical problems with either of those routes I am left grasping at the leavings of NSF grants, being funded by my prof, or being a TA. Needless to say none of those are very lucrative.
Now, one of the things that I’ve been told about being a grad student is that you shouldn’t be concerned with the amount of money you are bringing in, as long as you can pay the rent you are doing fine. This is fine, it is part of the college experience, and I’ve done fine with it so far, but I do need to consider my financial future. At present I have $0 in savings, that is not an exaggeration. I’m not saying that I have debt offsetting my savings, I’m saying that I have no savings (and debt too). On top of that I have no holdings, I’m a renter so I haven’t any equity. I am literally worthless. My 25th birthday is rapidly approaching and at that time I have to take control of my own insurance (both health, and car), and I’m afraid I don’t have the means to afford to live anymore. I don’t see why it is necessarily impossible to start “Life” (buying a house, starting a family, etc.) while still in school, but it _is_ practically impossible to think about making a major purchase when you aren’t sure where your (meager) paycheck will be coming from in the next 6 months.
I’ve been thinking about solutions to this problem, and I think I’ve got a workable plan. This will let me have financial solvency and it will let me teach (which I am wildly enthusiastic about), and eliminate the bullshit about school that I could do without. I’m going to be a lecturer. No research, still in academia (sorta). Optimally I would lecture here at A&M (so I don’t have to leave town), but my department doesn’t have any lecturers. I’m going to build up a case for myself and create an opening for myself in the system. Otherwise I’ll look at smaller schools in the area (SHSU and Blinn). Once I have some funds in the bank I can reasonably look at chasing my dreams (Stiverson Press here I come).
Sept. 13, 2008, 2:35 p.m. by Lew
i have a work dilemma people. i am going to apply for a position in another lab group within my company. i like my current lab, especially my boss who is cool as hell. but as a career move i want to move to this other group. i have talked to the group that i am applying to, but i have not told my current boss i will be applying. at what point do i tell my boss? do i tell her right away so she knows and can plan replacing me? do i put off telling her? if i tell her now she might make sure i get training that will help me in the new job. or it could backfire and she will be mad at me for thinking about leaving the group. it could make the next couple months really awkward. she could be understanding and encouraging or really offended and mad. i am not sure what the professional courtesy rules in the situation are, and what the general courtesy guidelines are.
Hawai'ian shirt day
Sept. 5, 2008, 10:09 p.m. by Lew
We had Hawai'ian shirt day at work. In order to participate without partaking in a style I don't care for I made and wore this shirt.
Be the Squeaky Wheel
Sept. 3, 2008, 2:09 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
Well, now that I’m finally—officially—in my office I can start formally complaining about it. There is a black panel on the wall, which I can only assume works by magic because I’ve never actually seen anybody servicing it, this panel indicates when there is a malfunction in the utilities of the building. Part of its function is to notify the people around it that there is a problem, however this does little good because the people around it have no idea how to fix the problem, or even how to turn off the alarm. So, when there is a problem the thing beeps like mad and gives a status message saying what caused the alarm. That’s right, the physical plant installed a system in each building to monitor that building, but neglected to connect the alarms to a central control room. They leave it up to the patrons of the building to call up the electronics shop to let them know when an alarm has been tripped. _Brilliant_. We’ll make sure you know if there’s a problem, make sure you let us know about it too. Here comes the best part, wait for it, nowhere on or around the panel is there a notification of who to call to report the alarm. _Super Brilliant_. I would like to propose that we fire the whole herd of morons who work for the Physical Plant and use the money that goes to their salary to make the campus a better place—did I say fire, I meant kill with fire.
Also, the building I’m housed in—the Reed-McDonald Building—is being renovated, this means that there are a bunch of moderately skilled workers (who I’m sure have been briefed about the monitoring system) futzing around with the electrical and plumbing systems in the building. This means that the alarm goes off constantly, and while it isn’t as pervasive as a fire alarm it is pretty annoying persistent beep. This beeping will slowly but surely work its way into your brain and eventually turn you into a homicidal maniac, I’ve had to personally take down 3 other graduate students who cracked, but I’m afraid I might be the next to crack and I don’t know if any of the asians will be able to take me out. It would be like Godzilla attacking Tokyo in here.
In order to remedy the situation I’ve committed to call the Physical Plant any time that damn panel is beeping, more than once a day if necessary. I’ve put in a work request to have a red phone—which patches me directly to the electonics shop—installed in my office, but I doubt they will get around to it anytime soon.