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Archive for the ‘Time’ Category

In case you didn’t notice, 2016 was just about the worst year ever. In addition to social and political drama such as a glut of celebrity deaths and the presidential election, many people I know, including our family, had a pretty crummy year personally. That doesn’t mean 2016 was a total failure, but I’m not sad to see it go.

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Last week, I was able to attend one of our major conferences of the year. This was the first time I have traveled for work since before Hudson was born and, other than my short hospital stay in January, the first time I have really been away from him at all. And apparently there were no baby steps getting back into it; I jumped right in by spending an entire week in the United Kingdom without Bart and Hudson. Thankfully, everything went incredibly well on both sides of the pond.

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Today around midnight Greenwich Mean Time (evening for us in the US), something remarkable will happen. I’ve gotten tons of questions from friends about the Leap Second, which is coming to a clock near you today, so I thought I’d take a moment to discuss the topic and hopefully shed a little light on why it’s interesting and why you should (or shouldn’t) care.

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Eπc

Happy Pi Day, everyone! As most of you have probably heard by now, 3-14-15 is a particularly epic (eπc?) Day, having two more inherent digits of the irrational number in the date. To celebrate the occasion, I organized “Pi Day Observed” at work on Friday…and of course it involved pie…

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Bart and I are cheapskates when it comes to watching movies: very, very few films come out that inspire us enough to drop $30 just to watch it. Therefore, we often wait to catch something on DVD or streaming, or we catch crazy early matinees on Saturdays when we can go for almost half price. (Can I just interject here that movies, like everything else, are so ridiculously expensive here in Washington, DC?) This Saturday, we didn’t have a lot planned, and I was in a rare mood to actually cough up a little cash to go see something in the theater. After weeks of being uninspired by recent new releases, I finally decided I would be interested enough in seeing Interstellar to brave a Saturday morning matinee, so Bart and I headed to the theater to catch this brand new release.

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It’s election day, and this is the first election we’ve had in the commonwealth of Virginia. It’s been a bit of a learning curve to figure out how things work around here, but fortunately we got registered when we moved and our polling place is at an elementary school in our own neighborhood. So, as long as we don’t have to stand in line for hours, it should be incredibly convenient. I hope you’re able to get out and vote today–do your part to make an end to this year’s political ads. Oh my gosh, please, anything to make them end.

In other news, we’ve enjoyed a more relaxed pace around the Taylor household after birth-denouement (see what I did there?). We’ve been playing catch-up a bit from our busy month, but we’ve still had our share of diverse adventures here and there to keep life interesting.
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Grab your permission slip and a sack lunch, because it’s time for a field trip!

In the last few weeks, my group at work has taken two trips to visit other research labs in the DC area. Visiting the lab of a fellow researcher is pretty standard practice in physics. If you’re in town for a meeting, you might call up someone you knew in grad school or who is doing work related to yours and stop by and chat about their work. You usually learn something new about a different topic and also trade advice and tips on the gritty details of experimental physics. There are plenty of research establishments in the DC area doing work that’s tangentially related to ours, so when some recent opportunities to go visit a couple of labs arose, our group decided to pay them a visit.
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Today marks five months since we’ve been in our house. I didn’t expect it to be winter for the entire first five months here, but here I am stuck at home on yet another snow day. Seriously? I thought I moved from Colorado, but maybe I’m mistaken.

The last month has brought some more visible changes to the house, which is a nice change from the unexciting grunt work that you can’t really see. I mentioned our two new furniture items, a coat wardrobe and a kitchen storage island, which have made a big impact in form and function. I’ve also made a few decor purchases. Up until now, I’ve felt like I should hold off on decorating since we expect to be painting and fixing drywall throughout the house. But given how long our first project has taken to complete, I decided it might be awhile until we got to other areas of the house, and I figured I should enjoy some cheerful trappings in the meantime.

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Virginians love their vanity plates. Or maybe it’s just that there is such a high density of people here that, even if the percentage of unique license plates here is the same as in other states, I see an extraordinary number of them around. Whatever the reason for their ubiquity, perusing the vast array of clever–and sometimes stupid–phrases has become a bit of a hobby while driving around town.

There are well over 200 available license plate themes offered by the state, and most of them very affordable at just a few bucks per year, making them the perfect backdrop to a witty vanity phrase. You could show your pride for the local professional football team (never mind that they actually play in Maryland):

You could support finding a cure for breast cancer (apropos for the month of October):

There’s the ever popular Gadsden Flag, particularly provocative here around the Beltway:

You can even live it up in Margaritaville every day; cheeseburger, anyone?

Naturally, since I’ll be headed to yet another new state and getting yet another new car registration, it’s time to hypothesize about getting my own fancy, personalized tags for my car. I’m never actually serious about getting a vanity plate, but thinking of my own clever phrase is a fun activity anyway.

Something nerdy is always a good place to start. I’m sure obvious choices like “HBAR” and “PHOTON” are probably already taken. Something a little more specific to my interests would be interesting. Bart suggested “TICTOC.” Or, there’s my personal favorite, “GHZ PHD.” I do have other interests, too. I could go with something like “KNITTR” or “BLOGGR,” though I bet those are already taken.

As you can see, it’s probably good if I don’t go with a vanity plate, as my ideas apparently aren’t all that stellar. However, I’d love to hear your clever ideas: what would you suggest as a vanity plate for me? If you were going to get a vanity plate, what cheeky, shorthand phrase would you get? What’s the best or worst vanity plate you’ve ever seen?

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A DC Museum Crawl

For Bart’s birthday last month, I surprised him with enrollment in a photography class. We got a fancy camera last Christmas, and though he’s taught himself the basics of how to use it, he’s always been interested in getting more technical and stylistic instruction to enhance his skill. I found a place in town that did introductory classes each month, and he signed up for one in May.

The class normally meets during the week, but one session was a “field trip” to downtown DC for some in situ photography on a Saturday. Since he was going to be down there with his class, I decided I would tag along and poke around the national mall on my own.

We started off at the Botanical Gardens, where he was to meet up with his class. Since he was a bit early, we did a leisurely walk in front of the Capitol and spent a few minutes relaxing on a park bench.

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When it was time for Bart to head back, I wandered over to the National Gallery of Art a block away. Bart likes museums just fine, but he wore out on endless walls of paintings during our two weeks in Europe. I decided I could check out some of the permanent collection that he wouldn’t miss seeing.

The main building is a giant marble structure in the neoclassical style. Like any good neoclassical building, it couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pay homage to the Pantheon. Ever since visiting the Pantheon in Rome last year, I’ve become aware of seeing its influence all over the place, particularly in DC.

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I spent an hour or so wandering through Italian, French, and Spanish art of the Renaissance. I’m no art aficionado, but I enjoy casually strolling around and appreciating different aspects of paintings and sculpture. It’s always awe-inspiring to me to see an object that is multiple hundreds of years old still here today. It’s also interesting to see what the artists felt was worthy subject matter and to compare the varying style of artists even from the same period and location.

I intended to wander there for most of the duration of Bart’s class; however, I quickly became hungry and decided I needed food before I ran out of steam. So I found a sandwich shop off the Mall and ate a bite before venturing back. However, my focused study unexpectedly turned into a DC museum crawl.

Typically, a museum crawl is not something that can practically be done everywhere. Most cities do not have the large number of clustered museums that Washington, D.C. does. Furthermore, most museums charge fees for admission, which makes hopping from one to another a prohibitively expensive activity. However, national museums in our nation’s capital are free to the public and also largely in close proximity. Therefore, I felt totally free to pop in and out of as many as I wanted on this Saturday morning.

It had started raining after lunch, so instead of heading all the way back to the art museum, I ducked into the American Indian museum. This was near the botanical gardens and also on Bart’s itinerary for the photo shoot, so I thought I might see him. I wandered through a few exhibits and paused to sit in the main area for a little while. There was no sign of Bart, so I decided to head next door to the air and space museum to check out the new time and navigation exhibit.

This exhibit, which just opened last month, is very relevant to the work I do. In fact, many clocks and devices from USNO and NIST are featured there. I’ve been wanting to check it out, and this was my first opportunity to do so. It was crowded and well-attended, and I thought it was thoughtfully put together and well done.

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Once I’d walked through that exhibit, it was getting near the time Bart would be finished, so I decided to end my museum crawl back at the gardens where he would be finishing up. Sure enough, I saw him talking with his teacher and fellow classmates, so I ducked into the garden for a peek at the orchid room before we left.

The abundance of things to do and see is one of the best things about living here. Even I, as a new inhabitant with the goal to see more of the city, can quickly neglect the ease of popping in and out of many museums and monuments at my leisure. Hopefully this experience will serve as a reminder that there is a lot to see and encourage me to make it a priority to enjoy more of it.

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