Monday, January 16, 2006

Self-indulgent post

There are good days and bad days. Today was a good day. While we're at it, it was a good weekend.

ISIT paper submitted. Yes. Finally. Done. After two revisions this weekend alone. And very well-written too, even if I do say so myself. Stuff almost competely unpacked, room kinda set up (the three things needed to make my life perfect - lamp, nail-cutter and key-ring, all obtained), books stockpiled in office, bike reconstructed and fixed, biked five miles back from Medford, groceries stockpiled and tofu-potator burgers cooked and fed to apartment-mates (thereby leading to hour-long conversations and ice broken), random little thingies bought, exercise room access obtained and exercised in, various post-doc applications for next years sent off.

And not all grunt-work either. With some new friends, went ice-skating Friday night, followed up with dinner at a fairly reasonable Chinese vegetarian restaurant, and
clubbing at a hip-hop place the next night - pleasantly drunk and thoroughly danced out. Bladed two miles each way in the rain, umbrella in hand, to lunch with a friend, Ben Lee, also a Caltech alum...

... whence we started our windmill design project.

Preliminary camouflage over, we come to the ulterior motive, the meat of this post. Yes, my friend and I have decided to build a windmill.

Resolved - it'll be a vertical axis windmill.

We hope to get permission to build it on the top of Tang hall.

Dimensions are still in flux, but the goal is to have this baby generate some serious power. Enough to power, say, a flood-light, which could illuminate, oh... maybe a beaver cutout...

... suitably placed. Sort of like a beaver-signal.

Why beavers? Well, 'cos beavers are nature's engineers. And also mascots for both Caltech and MIT (engineering schools both).

Okay, now that beaver bit's convinced you it's all a joke. But no, really, there's lots of reasons to build a windmill. Good reasons.

Such as that it's been ten years I've been doing electrical engineering, and I've yet to come down from my ivory tower to actually build anything. Dammit, I haven't even touched a soldering iron. So, part motivation is to actually be an engineer.

Why a windmill? Several of you know I've become more and more interested in Energy Issues (capitals deliberate) over the last couple of years. More on this in later posts (and there's lots to say - fascinating reading/hearing, especially as more and more people get involved now that energy prices are beginning their inexorable climb upwards). Involving myself in a relatively simple, tangible renewable energy project seems like a good way to get some hands-on exposure.

Also, this post-doc position, short-term though it is, is almost exactly the right duration for a project like this. Spend the winter months designing, and in the spring start construction. MIT is a good place to be doing it too - zillions of resources and interested/capable people.

But the most important reason is probably... just because.

Yep, a good weekend.


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