21/05: Layoffs

Category: Work/School
Posted by: seanmcox
Jumping off the metro this mornings, I glanced at the headline at a nearby newspaper dispensing mechanical box.

Boeing has announced layoffs. 750 layoffs, actually, between their El Segundo and Seal Beach locations. If I've worked the numbers correctly, that gives me a raw 10% chance, roughly, of getting laid off. I'm a relatively new employee which gives me some added risk. However, my last review went well, and having gotten into my regular job environment gives me some added job security. They invested a decent amount of money into me to get me where I am. So, I'm an asset they're unlikely to simply get rid of. On the other hand, they've made me significantly more employable, so even if I were to get laid off, I'd be positioned well to pick up another job.

100 will be laid off at the end of the week. The rest are apparently scheduled at the end of June, and a 60 day notice is to be given.

Anyhow, that's the latest. I'm not terribly worried, but I'm taking consideration for what's possible.

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Category: Work/School
Posted by: seanmcox
Yesterday was Tuesday, my day to run to campus and try to get something educational done. Yesterday I listed four topics I wanted or needed to learn more about and ran to the science library to pick up a good book on each. These topics were:

1.) Image processing and recognition (For fun.)
2.) Group Theory (Central to much of what's interesting in physics nowadays, so I wanted to learn more about it.)
3.) Solitons (Central to the stuff my professor has had me work on.)
4.) Navier-Stokes Equation (The focus of one of the millenium prize problems at the Clay Mathematics Institute, and an important equation for fluid dynamics. I was thinking I might do some research of a mathematical nature with it.)

When I got back to my office with my book selection, I found that the grad student I shared the office with was there with her new-born and her mother. I hadn't seen her since before she had the baby, so I told her that her baby was cute, which it was. She told me that my professor was taking a position in Alabama. (The conversation was more involved than that, but the details aren't at all interesting, even to me. I know, because my brain decided to not record them.)

Since I'm not moving to Alabama, that leaves me with some decisions to make. Since my research isn't going anywhere and it bores me almost to tears, I was considering just quiting the program, but that, to a large extent can be explained my the difficulty I have getting any direction from my professor. Quitting the program is still an option, but not my only option. Back when Prof. Zank became my adviser, I went with him because he was doing computational physics and he had the money to support me. Since Boeing is paying for my schooling now, money is no longer an object. I could look at any professor and the money criterion would be replaced with two new criteria, interesting research, and direction.

We have folks who are working on quantum computing, DNA-based computing, virus self-organization, and a variety of other interesting topics. The professors who were at the top of my list for interesting, unfortunately, were not doing very well as far as money goes. Now that money is no object, they're once again possibilities.

I also considered switching to CS, but somehow I don't much like the idea, especially when I consider that I might have to start with a number of foundational classes. Still, I'll probably look into it because, if the barrier isn't too high, I'd be very interested in doing something in the field of AI, or data mining; particularly applied to security.

Transferring to UCLA might also be a possibility, though I would only do it for convenience, and I have my doubts that the convenience afforded by UCLA outstrips the convenience of regular contact with family. Still, once the new baby comes, I might change my tune, and if I end up having to take a significant number of new classes, I would certainly need to think seriously about the feasibility of making frequent trips.

So, after taking this in I took a look at my pile of books. I knew when I grabbed them that I'd have to be choosy about what I left in my office and what I took with me. It seemed like it might be a tough call at the time. Now it was easy. Image Processing and Group Theory come. Navier-Stokes and Solitons stay. I'll have some fun this week. Next Tuesday I'll walk around campus and try to sort out the pros and cons of my various options. In a while, hopefully, my fun and interesting books will match my research books.

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Category: Work/School
Posted by: seanmcox
So, yesterday I went to UCR's campus to get a health insurance waiver and to go sign up for 3 units of directed research over at the physics department.

My previous attempt at obtaining a waiver had led to a curt and apparently irritated pronouncement that waivers were to be applied for online. (Apparently a change since the last time I applied for a waiver for the automatic enrollment in UCR's campus health insurance.) So, I applied online and was rejected. (Apparently they had trouble verifying the information.) This put me in a curt and irritated mood, because I'd walked all the way out to the campus health center (it's up on a hill) with my proof of insurance and could have done everything nice and smooth in just one visit. It was a slow day for them too, so it's not like they were too busy to deal with me.

Yesterday, I trudged up the hill again with my proof of insurance. I didn't have nearly as much free time available to me yesterday as my morning had been eaten up driving around with a real estate agent looking at more houses than a newbie buyer like myself could possibly digest. (and... Ephraim, as my wife reported, split my lip in the process.) Yesterday was not a slow day for them, but fortunately most people weren't there to visit the insurance office, just a very few other people. Nevertheless, I had to wait for one guy in front of me who seemed to be talking to nobody in the office but rather, just standing and waiting for the secretary-nurses hybrids to do something that apparently didn't involve talking to him. (So I'm sure I wasn't the only one a bit perturbed by things.) I was starting to fret that if the trend continued much longer I'd be late when suddenly something actually happened and there was nobody between me and getting my insurance waiver but a hybrid lady, who fortunately didn't present much of an obstacle. I explained that my waiver application had been rejected and gave her my insurance card, which she photocopied and wrote my ID number on. Fast and easy. (I'm keeping my fingers crossed until I get the confirmation email I was promised.)

So, I headed to the physics department. The secretary was out, but I hadn't completed my enrollment form yet, so that was OK. I found a chair, finished filling out the form and returned to find her talking to another student I recognized from the year just after my class's year. They were discussing when the printed diplomas were to be expected. This student's class would have taken their comprehensive exams just a few months after mine, so the discussion applied to me somewhat. The diplomas were apparently all backed up and not expected until January. When they got done talking, I presented my enrollment form and asked a few questions following up on the topic of the diplomas, confirming that they were backed up.

After that, I went to my office and from there to talk to Dastgeer as he'd been out of town for a month and had reportedly not seen any of my simulation results. I brought the results up on his computer and while we were talking about them I got a call from Cassey. She had just checked the mail at her parents' house and I had received a notice indicating that my diploma was available at the registrar's office. !?

So, I ran off to the registrar's office.

When I got to the registrar's office I explained what I was there for and gave the lady at the desk my name and a picture ID. She checked her computer and said "You didn't graduate from here." !?

I said "I certainly did graduate from here, but I certainly understand if the diploma isn't available yet." I then stated that it was my masters I was inquiring about, hoping to clarify, but apparently that was unnecessary. She'd been looking at the wrong name and, correcting her error, went and grabbed my diploma out of their filing cabinets. I reviewed it for correctness, and initialed a list indicating I'd received it. Now I have an unimpressive looking piece of thick paper sitting in a white catalog envelope which I can file next to my similarly unimpressive looking piece of thick paper sitting in a white catalog envelope.

I'm working on a third.

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11/08: Laptop

Category: Work/School
Posted by: seanmcox
I now have a new laptop with Windows Vista Home Edition. Windows Vista seems like a prettier version of XP, and has no "run" command in the start menu. (Maybe I'll find it somewhere.) That's not saying much though. I could say the same thing about all the other previous operating systems they've come out with. If it was too obviously different, then I imagine it would probably be too hard to use. It looks very different in some ways, but still feels familiar like Windows. There are parental control options, which I think is great. The games are nicer. They've also added a new game, mostly for kids, called Purble Place, which is kind of interesting.

I didn't buy the laptop for the OS though. I bought it to get stuff done, so my technical exploration is something I'm only mildly interested in doing.

The laptop is widescreen, which is weird. It has wireless networking capability, so I'll be able to do my own thing at home, school, my parents' house, and my in-laws' house. Now, once it's set up with all the software I need for my research, I'll be able to be more productive. (Though, it would help if UPS had been able to get that package from Verizon to me.)

Work... is not much. I'm doing some busy-work now, so... I'm not spending my day making updates to www.mormonwiki.com , though I'm not sure that's a positive change. It does, however, feel more like I'm working.

I'm waiting for a security clearance, so if you know me, someone might talk to you about me and ask lots of probing questions. I'm fine with that. The process, I was told, would take a little less than three months, and then I'll probably actually be doing something, but I don't know what exactly and I won't be able to tell you, so blogging about it just won't happen.

You'll just have to content yourselves with my thoughts on other things I do and progress reports on Ephraim. (I suppose that's OK, if my job weren't going to be a secret, it would probably be too dull to talk about anyway. Might still be.)

In any case, three months. Until then, I'll be doing odd jobs on the commercial end of business, and busy work. They might be the same thing.

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21/07: August 3rd

Category: Work/School
Posted by: seanmcox
I'm starting work at Boeing on August 3rd.
It's gong to be a busy couple of weeks.

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03/07: Accepted

Category: Work/School
Posted by: seanmcox
I've accepted the job offer.

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28/06: Graduated

Category: Work/School
Posted by: seanmcox
So, rumor has it that I've graduated.
I was sitting in my office today talking to one of my fellow students and she mentioned hearing my name during the graduation ceremony. I asked her, just to clarify that I understood correctly, and she verified that my name had been called during the graduation ceremony.
What a relief that is! I was afraid they might dawdle with the paperwork and not get me graduated until the fall.
It'll take a few months to get the actual paper diploma, but I've been processed, which is good to know. (For some reason printing diplomas takes months here at UCR.)

Work... Boeing... I'm leaning in favor of taking the job right now. Based on the salary and housing prices right now, I think I could afford to live within 30 minutes of El Segundo. Norwalk to be exact. That would also be within 30 minutes of Long Beach, which is another Boeing location, so that in the long run, I'd have great transfer options. Considering housing is on the decline right now, and it may take me a little while to put a little more money in savings and find an appropriate house, things are looking good that way.

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27/06: Offer

Category: Work/School
Posted by: seanmcox
$70,000/year
Relocation money available.

...

That's up in my "worth considering" range.
I hate tough decisions. :-{
Time to email my professor and find out what might be arranged. (regarding my PhD)

Must respond by July 3rd. (6 days)

Oh, wait... my professor is out of town starting today.
That's not helpful.

Cassey's smiling.

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12/06: Cheatin'

Category: Work/School
Posted by: seanmcox
Once again, upon proctoring an exam, I have had the opportunity to catch a cheater. I also can confidently say that the person he was copying off of was in cahoots. You can read my account if you like, but I wrote it mostly for the sake of having it written up to send to the proper school authorities.

» Read More



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25/05: Research

Category: Work/School
Posted by: seanmcox
I now officially have some research to do.

Apparently voyager had noted some anomalies in the magnetic field at the edge of the solar system. That is to say, there were odd little humps and holes where the magnetic field got briefly stronger or weaker.

My professor's research group had already worked out some solutions to the magnetic field equations that show this kind of behavior, but they need to look into how these solutions evolve over time. I'll be helping with or doing that next step. I'll need to come up with an algorithm to model the time evolution of the solutions they came up with.

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