Matt's opinion

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

First publication

For those of you interested, and I know all of you are, in seeing the first article published article I'm a co-author on here is the citation:

Kruse, S., M. Grasmueck, M. Weiss, and D. Viggiano (2006), Sinkhole structure imaging in covered Karst terrain, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L16405, doi:10.1029/2006GL026975.

It comes from a class project that actually became a good contribution to the scientific community. You can probably view the article if you search through the library or university that has a geology department that maintains a membership with the American Geophysical Union or you can read the abstract for free here:

I'm in the process, albeit a long one, of writing another article based on my MS thesis work but this will take another few months before it is published. I know all of you are just dying to see it so I'll let you know when that happens.

Other than that not much is going on. I'm just doing a hell of a lot of reading for class. It's pretty interesting though. The big research topic here is the global cycles of elements like carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and a few others. It's actually really cool how each element cycle can be examined on scales as small as a single plot of soil all the way up to global scales and then even the universe. It's not that easy to wrap your brain around something that's really fundamental and useful on so many levels, let me tell you. I guess that's why it's going to take 4 more years after this one to finish. Patience is a virtue.

That's all for tonight.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Killer bears

A story on shows why The Colbert Report routinely lists bears as the #1 threat to America in the "Threat-down" segment of the show. Dead or alive, those bears will get ya.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Epic battle ends in defeat

I know what you're thinking, but no, I'm not going to talk about the recent leak of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE). I'm going to talk about something that involves far greater consequences for me personally. This is really hard to admit, but I feel like I'd be lying to myself and to every one of you if I didn't just come out and say it.

Those of you who know me best know that I deplore coffee in all it's various forms and temperatures. Alas, in an attempt to perform at a higher level in my current capacity as a PhD student, I fear I have succumb to the greatest temptation of them all: consuming coffee and coffee related paraphinalia (sp?). I know it's disappointing, God knows I'm disappointed in myself, but it was inevitable. I simply have to read too many dry scientific papers that, while informative, are overwhelmingly boring.

I should note that all efforts are being taken to minimize the amount of coffee, and coffee related paraphinalia, I consume and that in the event of an addiction (which I fear is also inevitable) I know that I have a support structure in all of you I can rely on.

Thank you in advance for your support. That's all for now

Thursday, September 21, 2006


The other night when our friends Brock and Tracy were in town we got on the topic of cheating in schools when I said that while I TA'd an online course at USF I caught multiple people cheating and I turned in every single one of them. I hate cheating, especially when it's as obvious as copying paragraphs off web sites and turning them in as your own work. I've found an article that explains exactly why I feel so strongly about cheating. To sum up the article, too many people cheat. The figures in this article are indefensible and both current and future educators should do their up-most (sp?) to make sure this rate goes down. Perhaps then people in this country wouldn't be so damn stupid and we could start on a path to once again leading the world in science and technology.

Here's the article:

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

First day

Yesterday was formally my first day as a Wildcat. It was nice. I had my mom come over and make my lunch (she got me this kick-ass He-Man lunch box, sweet!!) and then I got on the bus to come to school and had my first class. It was so special!

Well, that's not entirely true. I did take the bus and have my first class yesterday but my mom didn't make my lunch and I don't have a kick ass He-Man lunch box (thanks a lot mom!), although I'm sure you already figured that out. Class went well. Yesterday I had "Geochemistry of Global Environments" which is going to be difficult as the prof who teaches it is a genius (literally wrote the book on the subject) but at least I should learn a lot from it. I got really pissed off yesterday when my second class didn't even meet ("Multivariate Calculus" discussion. Turns out the math dept doesn't want to stress out the TA's on the first day when we haven't had any lectures yet. Pussies.

What's mortifying is that the math course is at the undergraduate level, so I'll probably be surrounded by a bunch of kids who are just out of high school. Yeah, I'm going to be that creepy old guy in the class. woo-hoo. I'd really laugh if the TA in the discussion class is a MS level student. Not that it really matters, I mean they'll obviously know more about that subject than I do but it'll be weird being taught by someone who does not have an equivalent degree. I know that sounds a little stuck up and I don't mean it that way, I just can't think of another way to say it.

Today it's "Radiogenic Isotope Geochemistry" and Calc lect. The Isotope class should be reasonably easy as it's taught by my advisor and he pretty much said it was going to be (not as directly but you get the idea). We'll see how it goes.

So last night, since our friends Brock and Tracy are in town, we went to the Second City show last night in Lincoln Park. It was hilarious! If you have the chance to go do it. It's not that expensive and really funny. This particular performance was a little too political for me (yes, it's possible, which should tell you something) but it was funny from start to finish. Melissa and I are starting, ever so slowly, to get acquainted with the city. I give it another year or so and we'll be able to walk around downtown without my trusty CTA map and know where all the cool things are.

That's it for now, time for class.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sad Panda

Have you noticed lately that all of the tv shows that have been popular in the last couple of years are narratted. I'm watching the new series "Men in Trees" which is decent, but it's just like several other good shows in that it's narrated by one of the main characters like Grey's Anatomy, and Desperate Housewives. The narration really does add value to the show by explicitly stating the moral of each episode you watch rather than leaving it up to the viewer, who probably wouldn't get it otherwise. Anyway, on to other things...

I've been meaning to talk about the president's most recent address to the nation this past week. Since then I've pretty much forgotten most of it. What I do remember, and have actually seen quite a bit of lately, is the heightened rhetoric of republicans over the last week. Every time I turn on the news this week I hear someone in the administration talk about how the terrorists want to kill every one of us and that they will stop at nothing to do so. I even saw a small piece of the president's interview with Matt Lauer in which he said something to the effect of "Matt, think about your family. Think about them getting killed by terrorists"

It must be an election year, and those elections must be close. From what I remember about the 2004 elections the republicans talked ad nosium about terrorism and that the only way to win the war on terror was to keep the current administration. They compared any other adjenda to not supporting the troops in a time of war. It seems to me that the terrorism rhetoric keeps escalating while at the same time the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at home get increasingly worse. It's a negative feedback mechanism. The worse the war on terror goes the more you need president Bush to keep you safe, but the longer we have president Bush the war on terror continues to worsen. Why hasn't the democratic party caught on to this? Why am I not seeing any advertisements on TV or in the newspaper stating this or any other progressive message?

Of course it's possible that this area is considered so firmly democratic that it's not worth buying the ad space here, but you'd think some of the local canidates might get at least one ad out there just so more people recognize them. I get emails from several local congressional campaigns all the time asking for money. What are they using all this money for? It just dosen't seem like the democrats are capitolizing on any of the painfully obvious blunder committed by the republicans during the last few years (just yesterday Bush went to Capital Hill and lobbied for a bill that promotes the torcher of detainees at GITMO). My party has no balls, and that makes me a saaaaaaaad panda.