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I realized how tired I was when I got to to the airport here and decided that my initial plan to take a bus tour of London was not such a good idea, and I wisely decided to head straight to Oxford. Took the Hogwarts Gatwick Express train to London's Victoria station, headed to the London Underground where I was disappointed to learn it was not a political movement (cues rimshot) and headed from Victoria Station to Paddington Station, and from there caught a train to Oxford. Definitely a good idea because I was having trouble keeping my eyes open by the time I got here. I pretty much caught all of my connections and it still took about 4 hours of travel... ugh.

The situation was not helped that in order to find where I was staying I needed to go to the Porter's Lodge at St. John's College in Oxford. This process was impeded by a complete and utter lack of any signage or guidance. I was reasonably sure I was close to it, but to find it I basically pushed open a massive fortress door (which was mysteriously unlocked, and which I saw people occasionally wander out of as I stood on the sidewalk trying to get my UK phone plan to works... note: that remains a work in progress) and wandered into an empty courtyard and meandered into another courtyard and randomly went into a doorway to another area where I saw an open door to something that looked like an office and went in... and there it was (there were a lot of other possibilities for where I could have gone, it was extremely lucky that I "zen navigated" my way to the right place... if nothing else, I would have asked anyone I found for help). I paid for my flat (in advance... thank goodness my Canadian bank card worked, it is supposed to work like Visa debit card and did) got the keys and fobs and set out to find the place, dragging my luggage behind me... it was walking distance, but further than I expected by a little bit. I got in (hauled everything up three flights of stairs). You walk in the door and there is a vestibule with a light switch and two doors leading off of it in opposite directions. In one direction is a living room with a chair, a small couch, a foldable dining table, wall shelving, a desk, a small cabinet, and what was a fireplace (now sealed up). Off the living room is another door that leads to a small kitchen with stove, small fridge, microwave, toaster, sink, cupboards above and below with plates, cookware, etc.. Going the other direction from the vestibule is the bedroom with a queen sized bed, bedside tables with lamps, and a little closet with an ironing board, iron, vacuum, etc.. From the bedroom is another door and a fairly large bathroom with toilet, sink, and shower. It is far from luxurious, but it is certainly more spacious than a hotel room (or hostel room, which is where I was originally supposed to be staying... there is a private hostel for visitors to the facilities in Harwell, but it was full so one of the physicists from Oxford was able to get me this flat I am in now).

It was late afternoon, and I went out for dinner. A lot of the places nearby that looked promising were actual British pubs, and by that I mean I could get beer, but not really anything in the way of food from what I could see (none of the customers had anything but pints). I ended up going to what looked like a chain restaurant ( because they had what looked like decent food and had a menu out front. They were serving mid-afternoon tea with the trays of goodies and such, it was fun to see. Their regular menu was also available. I ordered what turned out to be a micro-brew IPA (my friend in China needs to come here and teach English... I can't understand a thing they're saying... seriously, and lol, they can't understand me one whit either!) that was very strong and bitter (I liked it, most people I know would not have) and their "Slow cooked salted pork belly" which was came with savoury apple pie, buttered green beans, mash, crackling, and red wine jus. It was better than I expected from a chain type restaurant (not a large chain, they have about two dozen locations, but still). They had a very European attitude toward bringing the bill (I had to flag my server down and make air-scribbling motions), but I was falling asleep at my table and had to get out. The good news again is that I was able to use my Canada Post prepaid Visa to pay for my meal (so that works too, which is good). I have some UK currency in my pocket, but my bank in Canada gave me 5 Pound notes that aren't accepted as currency here anymore, sigh, which is about 40% of the cash I had on me. I should be able to trade them in for valid UK currency, but will probably need some help with that because only banks will do it.

From there, I came back home (home is where I hang my hat) — via a convenience store where I bought vegetable samosas and an orange juice for a snack later — and pretty much fell asleep. I just got up am going to try to go back to sleep again soon (had a samosa, it was pretty good, and the juice) but will try to repair my shoe again with the glue I got (and brought), see if Virgin Mobile can fix the issue with my local phone plan in the UK which doesn't seem to be working, and maybe put my clothes away (and maybe even take a shower, which would be a public service at this point I'm sure).

If I wake up early enough, I might do the London hop on/hop off bus tour thing tomorrow but I'm not going to set an alarm. There is also the possibility of just doing a tour of Oxford (they have open topped double decker buses and lots to see here as well, it's quite the tourist town). I also need to figure out where to catch the private shuttle bus from Oxford to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Monday morning (I need to be there by 9:30AM, which seems quite civilized). Two shuttle tickets were waiting for me at the Porter's Lodge that had been sent by mail by my contact. The address was "Phelonius Friar, c/o The College Porter, St. John's College, St. Giles, Oxford, OX1 3JP"... seriously, this place has no actual address... you either know where it is, or you don't! Fyi, I found a little medieval door to the street (short, and studded with iron things) that is the door the area where the Porter lurks, err works that I can go to in the future if I need to. It allows access to one of the courtyards I had wandered through earlier, and has a doorbell that will summon the porter 24/7 from what I was told. It is unlocked, I was also told, until 11PM. There is absolutely no indication on or anywhere near that door or the buzzer as to what might lie behind it or what it's purpose is. I am thinking I will have to leave quite early for the shuttle bus as well... they indicate a location, but I suspect it is also a "you know where it is or you don't" sort of thing... and I don't ;).

I imagine that this is the sort of thing that goes on inside these mysterious institutions in Oxford:

pheloniusfriar: (Default)
I also just found out today (after the previous good news email already reported on) that I will be issued with a work visa for the UK "by way of ancestry" (my grandfather was British and moved to Canada after the war, and Canada is still a Commonwealth country). It's a 5 year multi-entry visa with quite liberal requirements for working in the UK (as long as I can support myself for a reasonable period of time, I can even go to look for work rather than having to have a job in hand at the border). My employer, Carleton University here in Canada, is going to pay for my travel, lodgings, and other expenses while I'm there (along with my salary, of course), so I will just be shifting money to the local economies in the area in return for hands-on experience. It is going to be used over the next few years (presumably) to spend a few weeks at a time at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) near Oxford (in Oxfordshire) to work on the Phase II upgrades to the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN due to be installed in 2025 (at which point it will become the HL-LHC or High Luminosity LHC). Heady times! I'll be staying in a flat for visiting scientists at St. John's College at Oxford and I'm already crazy excited at just the prospect of that (I'm easily contented apparently)! It also looks like I will have a couple of days in Oxford or London to do a bit of touristy type stuff... now I just have to figure out what to do with that time... hmmmm. I'll be spending my birthday there (on a Saturday yet), which will be a marvy way of marking my having survived another year and a fine excuse to treat myself with something fun.

Without the work visa, I could not have so much as picked up a paper clip to contribute to the project (RAL is a government institution and is very strict about such things), and I would only have been able to go and observe which would have defeated the main purpose of my going there (to learn how to do this stuff so we can help going forward since it's too much work to do in one place). I was, to be honest, stressed out of my mind about the whole thing because the non-refundable airline tickets are already purchased and the UK embassy in New York has my passport as part of the application process (which could have presented a travel issue if it was not returned in time, which could have happened if the application took longer than it normally does, which is a possibility in these sorts of things). So my stress level has dropped by orders of magnitude to say the least! So, I leave for Gatwick from Ottawa on September 22 and will be returning here on October 8.

If you're in the London/Oxford area then, I'd be happy to go for a pint (or a cup of tea of that's more your speed) while I'm there :-).


Sep. 12th, 2017 09:12 am
pheloniusfriar: (Default)
We have received your application to graduate from Carleton University in November 2017. Your eligibility to graduate in November 2017 will be based on the published calendar requirements for the degree program stated below:

CURRENT DEGREE: Bachelor of Arts Honours
Major 1: Women's and Gender Studies

You should confirm that the status of your application to graduate indicates "PENDING" in Carleton Central. The status of PENDING will remain until Senate meets to award degrees. After Senate meets to confer degrees on October 27, 2017 the outcome of your application will be sent to your Carleton email account and the result will also be updated in Carleton Central.

At this time, your audit report should say "ALL REQUIREMENTS COMPLETED -- IN-PROGRESS COURSES USED" or "ALL REQUIREMENTS IDENTIFIED BELOW HAVE BEEN MET". If your audit does NOT show one of these statements, then there are problems to be resolved and you should review this with your departmental advisor right away.

And I just checked and my audit does, indeed, say "ALL REQUIREMENTS IDENTIFIED BELOW HAVE BEEN MET" :).

I must say that this has been quite the wild ride! This is heaven.

pheloniusfriar: (Default)
I have so much I want to do, so much pent-up desire (and sometimes need) to accomplish so many things after eight years as a "mature" (or at least elderly) undergraduate student. So many business ideas, so many technical ideas, so many geekly fun for myself ideas, so many social ideas, but I remain mired in making it from one day to the next. I really should have taken some time off to get my head straight, but it just didn't work out that way (in fact, I had negative amounts of time off because I started working for the university part time months before my semester was over, and was full time before my finals were written). With all that said, the reason was the bane of my hopes to accomplish the things I want: opportunity. The chances to work on things too cool for school (if you'll pardon the phrase as I am still, for all intents and purposes, at school) was too much to resist. It comes at a cost though for sure.

So where are things now, well, as stated, I am working on some truly amazing projects right now. These include both the Phase 1 (New Small Wheel muon tracker/trigger [not actually very small, fyi], in particular the small-wire Thin Gap Chamber, sTGC, sub-project that I did the testbeam at Fermilab for a few years back as a student research assistant and got authorship on a peer-reviewed journal article by working on) and Phase 2 (silicon inner tracker, ITk, in particular the end-cap strips sensors sub-project) upgrades for the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (which will be upgraded to the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Detector with the replacement of the inner tracker system in 2025).

If all goes well, I just applied for a 5 year work visa for the UK (by way of UK Ancestry... my grandfather was born in Measham), and if I get it I will go for two weeks in mid-September (I've never been to the UK) to help test 48 wafers of a new batch of ASICs (integrated circuit chips, 450 per wafer) for the ITk project as part of a plan to start testing wafers here in Ottawa. There are hundreds of thousands of ASIC chips and thousands of sensors to be tested for the final detector, and we need multiple sites to do it at... Canada built the forward calorimeter for the current incarnation of ATLAS, and is working on the gas-filled detectors, the sTGCs, but this is the first time we've done silicon trackers like these, or at least on this scale. Anyway, if the visa thing works out, I might be going to RAL in the UK periodically over the next few years to work on this particular aspect of the project. I was supposed to make a side trip to CERN for the "ITk Week" where physicists from all over the world working on that project get together (I've never been there either, but I have been to TRIUMF, Fermilab, and DESY), but we're not sure when the wafers are going to be in, so it's kind of up in the air right now whether or not I make it to Switzerland (which I've never been to either).

I am also working on the Cryogenic Underground TEst facility (sorry, a PDF is all I could find that was public... slide 2 is worth checking it out for), CUTE (yes, CUTE...), which is an experiment that is part of the search for dark matter that will be installed at SNOLAB, 2km underground, early next year. It is going to use a 1kg chunk of ultra-pure germanium as its main detector element (huge for something like that, and crazy expensive). I have heard rumours that I may be asked to spend 6 weeks underground (well, heading underground each day... 5AM, ugh, but this will be for science!)... the first two weeks training (it's an active nickel mine in Sudbury, so there are real mining dangers on top of the danger of just being that far underground), and the next four weeks actually doing work. I had a chance to visit SNOLAB a couple of years back (I never got around to properly posting about it, which I am sad about), but I did post a couple of pictures I took while there. It really is like a villain lair from a Bond film or something... it's pretty surreal.

The other cluster of reasons why I am still not even close to being recovered from my undergraduate degrees is moving... and not even me. Firstly, my partner (we've been dating for a few years) could not find full time employment (much less anything with benefits) here in Ottawa (due to the way the federal government outsourced language training to a cartel), so had to move to Shanghai, China (teaching English as a Foreign Language) to get a living wage and extended medical insurance (we have universal health care, but it doesn't cover everything... like prescriptions and glasses and dental work unless they are outrageously expensive treatments or emergencies, for instance... I wouldn't trade it for the world having lived the alternative for a suffiently long time, but that's another story). She moved mid-June and that effort just about killed me dead (international moves are big things, I've done them before, but she didn't have a lot of resources, so sweat replaced money for a lot of things that had to get done). I did a radio inteview with her the week before she left that you can listen to here about her path through life that led her to where she is now. Her contract is for 15 months, but I am going to go visit her in Shanghai for two weeks in November! I've never been to China, so I am very, very excited (and Shanghai is a good introduction without going too deep, although I do hope to do one trip into another part of the country while I'm there). I was just starting to recover from that crazy process and my eldest daughter Beep finally decided to move out with two of her friends into a relatively nearby apartment. That happened last Saturday and it is still a work in progress (although 99% of the move is done now). It went relatively smoothly, but she had a lot more stuff than she thought she did, and it was a really hard job (moving hide-a-beds up from the basement here left some amount of injury, but nothing that's slowing me down too hard... I'm just freakin' exhausted). I'm heading over once I post this to her place for her housewarming party, and will be bringing a couple of serving spoons (she only has a ladle at the moment since her and her roommates didn't coordinate "stuff bringing" particularly well, heh), and a homemade vegetarian pizza to cook (I'm just waiting on the dough to finish and will bring the prepared ingredients in bags to assemble there). Her two roommates are effectively vegetarians (one will eat meat, but only if ethically sourced from personally known farmers), and I think that will be good for Beep (she's a whiz with vegetarian foods, we have always eaten a lot of vegetarian meals at home here). She is also continuing at college (Algonquin) in their Culinary Management programme, where she is learning to be a chef and to be able to run a kitchen or even restaurant. It's a good portable (almost universal) skill to have, and could open up a lot of doors for her all over the world if that's what she decides she wants to do. She is also talking about taking a degree in antropology at university eventually, and that would pair very nicely with a background in food... could be interesting, but we will see. Tuition is now free for low income families in Ontario (that'd be us, give or take a bit), so it is financially easier to go to school for both of them too (I completely missed out on it as it is only starting this fall). Happy had planned to move out at the start of the summer, but didn't quite get around to it, and for many reasons, has decided to stay with me for at least another year of school. She is going into her second official year in the psychology programme at Carleton (with minors in Women's and Gender Studies and Sexuality Studies... she has grown up around a broad spectrum of gender representations, so she is well placed to make contributions in those fields, imho). School starts for both of them in a week, so that's going to take a lot of effort on my part as well (if history is any indication). I do have to say I'm not looking forward to Carleton being packed to the rafters with people again soon, summers are so nice there...

My radio show, The Passionate Friar, is still going pretty well: an hour of feminism/social issues, physics/science, and music... news, reviews, interviews, ideas, engaging audio, and the Oxford comma! I've managed to up my game with interviews this summer and hope to keep the momentum going forward (I need to get more lined up for September now, but I think I will try more phone interviews, so it opens up a lot more possibilities). The shows are available "on demand" for somewhat over a year, so there is lots to listen to if you want to hear the people behind the physics (and science) and feminism (and social issues) you may hear/read about and benefit from. The list of shows to choose from is here on the CKCU web site. It's a long-form show (an hour), with some music for good measure (so it's not an hour of just talking). It gives a chance for people to warm up and share the stuff they are really passionate about and have devoted at least the current part of their lives pursuing. Some recent stuff includes: Ryan Couling and Matthew Johnston about their research into social media reactions to the Jian Ghomeshi trial; the writers for, and the editors and publishers of, the new young adult anthology Brave New Girls: Stories of Girls Who Science and Scheme; Lori Stinson on her research which ranges from patterns of pornography consumption, to corporate manslaughter and homicide laws, to the changing federal family violence initiative; Alex Nuttal on disability tropes in comics and Barbara Gordon /​ Batgirl /​ Oracle; S.M. Carrière about creating characters or talking with/​about people that don't share your lived experiences (e.g. LGBTQA+ if you're not, women if you are a man or visa versa, etc.); neuroscientist turned social worker Dr. Elaine Waddington Lamont; an interview with Canadian new wave synthpop band Rational Youth; an interview and live music with Xave Ruth on the intersection of math, music, and comedy; Dr. Michael Windover, historian of architecture, design, and material culture on his research, exhibits, and book on early radio in Canada; outgoing Carleton University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Roseann O'Reilly Runte about her French poetry, writing, and research; theoretical physicist Dr. Thomas Grégoire; science education innovators Martin Williams, Ian Blokland, and Mats Selen (2015 US Professor of the Year); Cindy Stelmackowich on the history of Canadian women in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM); etc., etc., etc..

Needless to say, every Wednesday morning, my mind is totally blown and I can be excited about life and everything in it all over again. It's good to be The Passionate Friar!!!

Lastly, and on the topic of "mind blown", if you're in Ottawa September 11, please come out to the Carleton University Art Gallery for the vernissage of the art gallery exhibit I helped to curate and produce! It's an amazing collection of artifacts from early women scientists in Canada and tells both the story of the tremendous contributions they made, and the forces that were arrayed against them simply because of their gender. It has been an indescribable privilege to have participated in such a unique exhibit. From the CUAG list of upcoming exhibits:

11 September – 03 December 2017
Curated by Josie Arruejo, Chelsea Black, James Botte, Brigid Christison, Michelle Jackson and Sharon Odell; in collaboration with Dr. Cindy Stelmackowich.

So, what is a “herbarium?” and why is she the focus?

A herbarium is a collection of dried and preserved pressed plants or fungi that are stored, catalogued and arranged systematically for study.

In highlighting the “her” within
HERbarium, this exhibition focuses on the highly skilled and too widely unknown women who contributed to the collection, identification, illustration, production and distribution of early scientific knowledge within the field of botany in Canada.

Because of the accessible nature of botany close to home, and a national pursuit and desire to see, describe and classify flora and fauna species that were distinct from Europe within a then-young Canada, botany was the first natural science formally practiced by Canadian women.

With examples of path-breaking contributions by Catharine Parr Traill, Lady Dalhousie, Faith Fyles, Dr. Irene Mounce and Dr. Mildred Nobles, this exhibition looks back at an important and underrepresented history. It also includes a copy of the “Privy Council Letter, 1920 – Women, Marriage, Employment” which outlines the federal policy in effect until 1955 that prohibited a woman upon marriage from continuing her career as a federal employee. The exhibition also looks forward at the continuing need to encourage women to pursue careers in science, where they face ongoing discrimination on the basis of intersections of gender, race, sexuality, dis/ability and class.

This exhibition has been developed for the Carleton Curatorial Laboratory in collaboration with Dr. Cindy Stelmackowich as part of her seminar “Representations of Women’s Scientific Contributions” offered through the Pauline Jewitt Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies at Carleton University.

If you're there, come say hi! I'll be the old, fat, bald, white guy standing awkwardly in the midst of many very cool and diverse young women ;). I do have to say that it was one of the most amazing courses I have ever taken... when I saw the title of the course, I knew there was no way I could not sign up; however, I had assumed it was going to be more research and essays and maybe classroom discussions. I was wonderfully, wonderfully wrong... it was many, many excursions to the hidden collections of Canada's national museums, practical hands-on work with many brilliant classmates, deeply engaging conversations about women in science (both historically and today), and working far outside my comfort zone on so many things. It was an absolutely magnificent way to cap my B.A. Honours degree in Women's and Gender Studies.

If that doesn't work, and you're here on October 17th... to the best of my knowledge, I should be there for this as well (see above re: potential travel to the UK or maybe even SNOLAB):

HERbarium: Exhibition tour with the curatorial team
Tuesday, 17 October 2017, 7:00 p.m

Please join us for a tour of the exhibition HERbarium, which was co-curated by Josie Arruejo, Chelsea Black, James Botte, Brigid Christison, Michelle Jackson and Sharon Odell, in collaboration with women’s and gender studies professor Cindy Stelmackowich.

Admission is free and everyone is welcome! CUAG is an accessible space, with barrier-free washrooms and elevator.

It does run until December 3, 2017 and I'd be happy to pop by if you get a chance to see it (just let me know a day or two in advance). I will be going in right after my show on Wednesday (August 30, 2017) to lend a hand or two in helping to set up the actual exhibit. It's delightful that we were actually able to get some amazingly rare artifacts to (safely) put on display, including Lady Dalhousie's 18th century personal herbarium, a first edition of Catherine Parr Traill's groundbreaking 1865 book "Canadian Wild Flowers" (a limited print run of 500 units, each with 10 colour plates, hand watercoloured by family members, it was the first "coffee table art book" published in Canada), amazing botanical artwork and science by Faith Fyles, and mycology (mushrooms and fungus) samples and other work by the pioneers in the categorization and study of fungi Dr. Irene Mounce and Dr. Mildred Nobles from the mid-20th century. The reproduction of the “Privy Council Letter, 1920 – Women, Marriage, Employment” (which was the "smoking gun" for so much of what we were trying to document regarding the limitations imposed on women) is just jaw dropping to read.

Just writing that, I feel like I need to go back to bed...

For a video today, hmmm... I think I need to repost something I seem to post every once in a while. The first video, "I Tak Bez Konca" by Polish musician Karolina Kozak is the United States I remember fondly and saw as the possibility of the place. Filmed in Savannah, Georgia, it often brings a tear to my eye (I actually know the people in the coffee shop from when I lived in North Carolina... it's a small world). The second video is the United States that we see on the surface and is the one the world is carefully watching: "I'm Afraid Of Americans" by David Bowie and Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails)... which will ultimately win, and at what cost? This is another place where a tremendous amount of my energy is going these days, just wondering if I'll have time to realize that nuclear war has broken out before me and my children and friends are all dead (we live in a national capital). I lived through the 70s and 80s, and I had hoped these days of fear were behind us. They are not, and I think it is even more dangerous (and possible) today than it was then given the multi-axis instabilities and extremism (and by that I mean established governments, not non-governmental groups) we are seeing all over the world. The Bowie/Reznor video sends chills down my spine when I watch it.

If that's too depressing... how about this song from Zepparella's original lineup (I have serious respect [and other feelings] for the drummer, she doesn't mess around when it comes to playing those things):

So much to live for still, let's get our shit together.
pheloniusfriar: (Default)
I have spent weeks (not solid, more as a background task) trying to figure out how to produce a silkscreen for a set of front and rear panels I have been working on. As I indicated a while back, I am learning AutoDesk's Inventor 3D CAD software. In general, I have found it to be an intuitive and powerful package; however, to finish the job, I needed to produce the artwork so I could get a silkscreen done (just some basic lettering for the faceplate for some of the electronics controlling part of an experiment to go into SNOLAB). Well, whatever intuitivity (my invented word of the day) there may be in the rest of Inventor, it doesn't exist when trying to do a silkscreen. All the web pages I read talked about how to add lettering to a design, but didn't explain how to export it to what was once called "camera ready artwork" (basically the artwork needed to create the screen for the application of the ink/paint). The few web pages that went into any detail were either very old or simply indicated that it was a waste of time to even bother trying, and to use AutoCAD instead. Ultimately, that was the route I went, but I haven't used a version of that software in probably 20 years and it's not the same package at all anymore, so it was a learn-from-scratch scenario again.

I am clawing my way, millimetre by painful millimetre, to productivity.

For posterity's sake, here's the procedure I followed (I know these show up on searches of the Intertubes; and if I don't write it down, I'll forget it myself):
  1. From Inventor, create a drawing at 1:1 scale for the 3D part's face that will be silkscreened (choose the proper sized "paper" to hold the whole drawing... C size in my case). Fill out the information box as necessary as this will be included in the output file from AutoCAD. I did this by going New->Drawing, then clicking on the Base button in the Create tools, then setting the scale to "1" and selecting the "Hidden Lines Removed" Style. I have two drawings them from the same 3D part: one that I dimensioned and gave to the machinist to make the actual part (which has different scales and such), and a new one that I created for the silkscreeen generation that just has the holes and cutouts and stuff along with the info box and page border.

  2. Close the drawing for the silkscreen in Inventor and open the drawing in AutoCAD (if you don't close it in Inventor first, AutoCAD complains that something else has it open and offers to open it in "read only" mode).

  3. On the Home tab in AutoCAD (we're done with Inventor), in the Layers tools, click on Layer Properties and then delete all the layers that are not going to be needed (there are a bunch). The way to do it is to turn off (the little lightbulb) all the layers and bring back the ones you need, then delete everything else you can (on this job, one layer could not be deleted or renamed for me). In my case, I kept the following layers and deleted the rest: 0 (can't delete), Border (ANSI), Title (ANSI), and Visible (ANSI). On the previous one I did, there was another layer (Defpoints) I could not delete. Furthermore, I could probably have deleted the Border (ANSI) layer in both, but I just left it hidden.

  4. To satisfy the requirements of the company I was sending my artwork to, I had to rename Visible (ANSI) to MECH (the mechanical layer that showed the holes and such), and Title (ANSI) to PAGE (which had the identification information on it and any further instructions). I then needed to create two new layers: WHITE (one layer for each colour... I was only doing a single colour since it was basic lettering), and REGISTER (to hold registration marks to allow for alignment of the panel to the screen).

  5. Go to the Layers tools and, using the pulldown, select WHITE (or whatever colour you are using). Changes made will go in that layer. Under the Annotation tools (in the Home tab), select Multi-Line Text (or single line if that's what floats your boat... I'm just providing my experience) and place whatever text is needed. I did not have any artwork (the logo for the project would have taken days to convert to a monochrome one and that was out of scope for me). The company I'm sending it to indicated that I should use colour #7 for all the layers. The existing layers were, thankfully, imported with that colour already.

  6. To place text, select Multi-Line Text, one corner of the rectangle to place it in, and then the other corner of the rectangle to place it in. Type text into the box, resizing it as necessary to fit the text the way you want (one or more lines). You can use Enter to put in a line break. The key is to select the correct justification to allow the text to be positioned exactly. For instance, I wanted to place text below a cutout for an AC Power Entry Module about the allowable voltages, the maximum current draw, and what fuses to use. I put the text on two lines (voltages and current, and fuse specifications), selected the Center alignment button in the Paragraph tools, and then selected Top Center TC from the pulldown Justification list in the Paragraph tools. If you are aligning it to something below it, use Bottom Center BC (Left or Right Center to align it to the side, but then use Left/Right alignment as well for the text). That gave me centred text with a handle in the middle of the text above the text that I could choose to align with the cutout. Select Close Text Editor way over on the right to finish editing the text (it can always be opened up again by double-clicking on it).

  7. Align and place the text where you want it... sadly, easier said than done. You will need some feature to align it to for starters. In my case, I had a rectangular cutout. In Inventor, lines have convenient middle handles that can be used for alignment, but in AutoCAD, just the ends of the lines have handles. As such, to centre my text below the cutout, I had to go to the Annotate menu and select the Centerline button from the Centerlines tools, then select the sides of the cutout to create a centreline. Once that was done, I could click on the text to select it, click on the square handle (at the top in the centre per my justification choice earlier) and then hover it over the centreline I just created to lock it on, then I could drag it down below the cutout and, as long as I didn't drag it too far off to the side, release the mouse button to drop it below the cutout along the centre line (it snaps to the feature). As you drag the text, there will be a dotted line to the feature it is locked to so you know it's aligned with the centre (or whatever). This took me a long time to figure out how to do, but it's nice and easy once I knew. You can also use the Center Mark tool from the Centerlines tools on holes and circular cutouts, which is preferable (on my previous design, I had a hole aligned above my square cutout that I used for alignment, it was a lot easier).

  8. To set the distance between the text and the feature, you need to go to the Parametric tab and select the proper tool from the Dimensional tools. In this case, I used the pull down on the left of the tools to select Vertical. The theory is that you constrain the text to be a certain distance from an edge or a hole or something, but the reality is not quite so easy. If it is a hole, then it seems to work out fairly well, but for a rectangular cutout even, it takes some work. To set my distance on the cutout, I first had to draw lines (the Line tool from the Home->Draw tools) along the centre line from its top point to its bottom point, and along the two perpendicular lines to the centre line of the cutout. I then used the Trim tool from the Modify tools, selected the newly drawn line over the centre line, and then the top line I just drew (the two reference objects), then do a right click with the mouse to terminate object selection and put it into trim mode, then click on the part of the new centre line that is above the cutout to trim it off. It will look like the line is still there, but it is the proper centreline that was added earlier. Delete the proper centreline, and the top line that was drawn on the cutout. That will leave the rest of the new line drawn over the centreline (with its top trimmed off) and the line drawn along the bottom of the cutout. Go back to Trim, select the centre line and the remaining perpendicular line at the bottom of the cutout, right click, select the bit of the centre line sticking out. Finally, there is a handle in that can be accessed by the Vertical tool from the Parametric tool (ugh). There may be better ways of doing this, but this is what worked for me. Then... start the Vertical tool, hover over the text and you will see a red circle with an X through it for the text handle. Click on it. Hover over the intersection between the centre line and the line along the bottom of the cutout to find the next handle (red circle with X) and click on it. Slide off to the side to drag the dimension off to the side and click to place it. Double click on the dimension value and put in what you want (e.g. 0.5 inches in my case). The Parametric tool will pull or push the text to the distance you asked for. Placing other text is generally variations on this theme. Once the text is placed... delete the lines (center and bottom) used to place the text and any leftover dimensions if any (deleting the lines deleted the dimension on my drawing), otherwise these will show up on your silkscreen, which is presumably not desired! If I wasn't already bald, I would be after wrestling with AutoCAD as long as it took me to get this to work.

  9. Rinse and repeat for any remaining text (if you figure out how to place images, maybe post below for others that might find this post... or give a link to an article on how to do it perhaps if it is detailed as what I'm doing here, no need to repeat it if it already exists). At this point, with all the text placed, it is probably a good idea to turn off all the layers except WHITE and make sure the only thing there is text (and that it is all there). If you accidentally placed text on the wrong layer, I know there is a way to move it, but I forget what I did.

  10. Select the REGISTER layer to place registration marks (always a good idea unless the company you're sending to doesn't want them). Here, the hover/lock function I talked about is used heavily. It's quick work once you get the hang of it, but be patient until it makes sense. So... select the Line tool and hover over a corner of the faceplate (or whatever), a hollow green square will appear, move the cursor vertically from the corner and a dotted green line will appear with an X at the end, once away from the corner, click to start the line and then move the cursor up further to define the direction of the line, then enter the length of the line (I used 0.9 inches), press Enter to accept the number, press Enter again to finish the line. You should have a vertical line that isn't touching the faceplate. Do the same to place a horizontal line at the same corner. Then go to the Parametric tab and set a Vertical constraint between the bottom of the vertical line and the horizontal line (I set the constraint to 0.1 inches), and then set a Horizontal constraint between the horizontal line and the corner. Make sure to select the reference line before the line to move/constrain or the reference line will move instead (i.e. for the Vertical line, select the end of the horizontal line first before the vertical line). Repeat for the other three corners and you will have a full set of registration marks of equal length and of equal distance from the four corners. Now... delete all the constraint dimensions so they don't show up on the silkscreen! Stuff is where it is supposed to be and that's enough.

  11. One of the last things I needed to do was to go back to the Layer Properties (under the Main tab) and change the width of the MECH, PAGE, and REGISTER lines (and your silkscreen layer lines if you added any) to values useful to the company doing the silkscreen. In my case, the default they wanted was 0.010 inches, which is about 0.25mm. As long as you didn't override the line width and left the Linetype as "by layer", this is simple from the Layer Properties list (it has a pulldown list of acceptable line widths). I then added some additional text to the PAGE layer (selecting it from the pulldown layers menu) to indicate the ink colour and the material I will be providing to silkscreen (they can acquire it themselves, but I will be giving it to them). This was according to the guidelines provided to me. Lastly, the company I was sending it to could only read AutoCAD files up to version 2007, so once I was done, I did another "Save As..." and saved it to AutoCAD 2007 format with a different name (just appended _ac2007). I send them an AutoCAD 2017 file before I realized that limitation and when they opened it, they said it was blank. When I sent them the 2007 format version, they were able to open it fine.

Well, a technical post, but hopefully it helps someone some day (or reminds me when I need to do it again!).

Hmmm... appropriate video here? Hmmm...

pheloniusfriar: (Default)
Received minutes ago...

Dear Phelonius Friar:

I am pleased to inform you that the Senate of Carleton University, at its meeting of June 2, 2017 granted you the following degree:

Bachelor of Science
Minor in Mathematics

This degree will be conferred at the Convocation ceremony held on June 13, 2017 at 9:30 am. Please bring your campus card with you for registration purposes. Please visit for complete details regarding the June 2017 Convocation ceremonies. You may also view the list of medalists approved at the June 2, 2017 Senate meeting. Graduates also enjoy discounts at the Carleton University Bookstore. Please visit them at: for details.

On behalf of Carleton University, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on this important achievement.

Yours sincerely,
Suzanne Blanchard
Vice-President (Students and Enrolment) and University Registrar
pheloniusfriar: (Default)
Received in the past hour...

Dear Phelonius:

Congratulations! I am pleased to welcome you to the Bachelor of Arts Honours Women's and Gender Studies program at Carleton University. Enclosed are details regarding your offer of admission...

As stated before, I have completed all the requirements to graduate (they included an audit confirming it... the requirements change year over year, so it was possible that I could have gotten caught by something I didn't know about, but I'm good). So... as soon as I have graduated from my B.Sc. Honours program (I was told it would be around the end of May sometime, possibly early June), I can apply to graduate with the B.A. Honours (I already know my final grade as well, it's an A- ... not stellar, but pretty amazing for a degree I had not intended to get when I went to university, and much better than my final grade for physics, ugh). The convocation will be in the fall some time I believe. If you're in Ottawa on June 13, you are cordially invited to an apres-graduation soirée at my place in the evening (if you don't know the coordinates, message me).

In celebration, I present one of my favourite videos (it always makes me smile... and shake my head a little at it as I watch):

Never a dull moment!
pheloniusfriar: (Default)
I am still waiting for the Senate at Carleton University to grant me my B.Sc. Honours in Theoretical Physics (it usually happens at the end of May from what I understand), but I have gone ahead and applied for admission into the B.A. Honours Women's and Gender Studies programme, which should take about 2 weeks and will apparently be in time for the summer semester even though it has begun (I visited the Admissions Office this morning and that's their story and they're sticking to it). As soon as I'm accepted, I will apply to graduate in the fall as I have already completed all the requirements (to my knowledge). I am a broken man on a Halifax pier (and it has been more than 6 years since I sailed away), but it is a consolation that I survived (last year, there was some serious uncertainty) and the amount of time I spent in total is reflected in the multiple results (not my intent at all when I started, fyi).

I am now starting on life number eight (humans get about eleven, unlike cats, phew), at least per one of my favourite comics of all time, from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (there is much more to it than I repeat here to illustrate the points, so it's worth checking out):
Here is something true: one day you will be dead.
Here is something false: you only live once.
It takes about 7 years to master something.
If you live to be 88, after age 11, you have 11 opportunities to be great at something.
These are your lifetimes.

Most people never let themselves die.
Some are afraid of death.
Some think they are already ghosts.
But you have many lives.

Spend a life writing poems.
Spend another building things.
Spend a life looking for facts,
and another looking for truth.

These are your lifetimes. Use them!
Which also reminds me of the final monologue in the movie Sucker Punch:

And it also has a tinge to it of another comic that I have had pinned to the corkboard in my kitchen for years that I read at least once a week so I never forget (click on it to go to the page it is from):

I just found out that a very good friend had her visa application to teach in China approved last night and she will be leaving for over a year to do something that is utterly out of her comfort zone. She is a hero to me because she is starting a whole new life, and it is a beautiful and terrifying and magical thing to behold. And yes, I do plan to take her up on her offer to come visit her while she is there... I have never been to China.
pheloniusfriar: (Default)
I am now working full time at the university (as an electronics specialist... sadly, an extension of my previous life and not as a physicist, but I at least get to work with physics instrumentation all over the world, so it could be worse).

One of the main issues I'm facing right now is trying to get a set of tools up and running that will do all of the things that are being asked of me: FPGA and possibly ASIC design, schematic capture and PCB layout, laboratory instrumentation systems, integrated circuit manufacturing and quality control, mechanical design, safety and reliability engineering for electronics equipment to go in a mine (2km deep) or into the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, etc., etc., etc.. My total budget for purchasing tools and training is zero. $0. Nada. Zilch. Bupkis. Being at a university, however, I can get free access to a bunch of very expensive tools for research and academic purposes. Furthermore, I got the physics department to get a Canadian Microelectronics Corporation membership, so we can access even more tools through them. So far, I am learning AutoDesk's Inventor for 3D mechanical CAD, Mentor Graphics' PADS PCB (including DxDesigner) for schematics and board layout, Mentor Graphics' HDL Designer for FPGA and ASIC design, Xilinx's ISE and Vivado for FPGA synthesis (I need both because I'm designing for both old and new families, including Zync), Xilinx's ModelSim for FPGA simulation, CERN's ROOT for scientific analysis and computing (C++ framework), and LabView for instrumentation control. I use LibreOffice for documents and spreadsheets ;). I switch back and forth on the one computer system I have between Linux and Windows depending on what task I have to perform.

Needless to say, I'm overwhelmed with training myself on all these systems all at once (some of which have nearly no actually useful documentation). And I need them all to accomplish the work I have been asked to do. It's like drinking from a firehose, with predictable results... ;)

pheloniusfriar: (Default)
I just got my grade for the last class I had to take (4th year quantum mechanics), and I passed. I did not get the mark I was hoping for, but moving on to a new phase of my life is much more important (it has been so many years of being stressed out of my mind 24/7/365.25, it is going to take me a while to decompress). As such, I will be graduating in June (well, officially before then I presume, but ceremonially in June). I will have a B.Sc. Honours in Theoretical Physics with a Minor in Mathematics. As soon as I get the official word that I have graduated (it is pending now and needs to be approved by the university Senate, along with approvals for everyone else graduating), I will be applying for admission to the B.A. Honours Women's and Gender Studies programme. Having completed all of the requirements for that programme already, as soon as I'm accepted (presuming, of course), I will be applying to graduate from that as well (it will be a fall convocation for that).

Anyone in the Ottawa area is cordially invited to a party at my place the evening of Tuesday June 13th, which is the day of my convocation. I will hold a post-graduation party as well within a couple of weeks of that (probably the weekend of the 24th) for those who can't make it out on a weekday night. Just private message me if you don't know the way... Note: if you ask me for the way to San Jose, then that song will be stuck in my head, and I will hate you ;).
pheloniusfriar: (Default)
This is the first real academic research and writing assignment I ever did, back in 2010. There were a few short essays I had to do earlier in the first year (year long) Introduction to Human Rights course I was taking at the time, but they were just a few pages and leveraged the analysis and integration and writing skills that I had apparently developed over the years (the writing skills were a big surprise to me since I assumed from my high school experiences decades before that it was not something I was good at). They were also not huge jobs. This, on the other hand, was a semester-long 3rd year independent study project on a subject I had no idea about previously (I knew what muons were, and had heard of cosmic rays, but that is about the extent of it). To have been presented with this opportunity in my first year of studies was quite the honour (especially because it would lead to employment over the summer of 2010 and possibly beyond), but it rapidly became clear that I was deeply in over my head both from a subject and skillset point of view. Specifically, writing an academic report is very, very different from any research and writing I had done before, and I was woefully unprepared for what it would take. Needless to say I learned a lot (and got an A-), but it definitely took a toll on my well-being (it ended up being 45 pages and cited 29 works, ugh). I do think it's a good first attempt at something like this, but it does contain some inaccuracies and is missing some fairly important stuff, however it is a good introduction to the topic and I've always wanted to post it here some day (it would have been better if I had MathJax, but I'll just post the images inline as there are relatively few). There are a few bits that I thought turned out quite well, and I can at least be proud of those parts.

Don't let the physics scare you away, I'm coming at the subject generally and mostly in plain English because that's all I had at the time (I do try to do that still, fyi, but I have a bit more knowledge to draw from now and can avoid some of the mistakes I've made here). As a note, completing this project did land me a gig that lasted from the summer of 2010 through the summer of 2013 on three projects related to cosmic ray muons (tomography and solar weather analysis), and formed the foundation for the work I've been doing since with upgrades to the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland (I've never been there myself, but I've been to TRIUMF, Fermilab, and DESY as part of all of this... and maybe SLAC this coming spring or summer?). A very good friend once claimed that they saw me “living a life of small adventures”, and that does seem to be an ongoing thing.

The Use of Cosmic Ray Muon Tomography in the Detection of Concealed High-Z Materials


A. The need for screening

It is becoming ever more important to monitor the flow of goods and people as a deterrent against state, criminal, or ideological organizations that may wish to wage war or cause serious disruption through the use of various asymmetric weapons systems within the territories we wish to consider secure. To that end, increasing surveillance and intrusive inspections have been implemented at points where the greatest risk exists, for instance at airports and border crossings. For an effective deterrent, all traffic through these key points of commerce and travel especially, as well as the appropriate measures for points between, require 100% screening to be maximally secure. For historic and economic reasons, this strategy of complete coverage presents an extreme challenge to even the most affluent and security conscious of societies. Furthermore, any onerous impediment to the efficient movement of goods and people elicits an economic cost of its own that can destroy the very prosperity that such security measures wish to protect.

While it can be argued that the smuggling of conventional weapons poses the greatest chance of occurring and resulting in harm being inflicted through their use, all but the largest of instances of such smuggling into otherwise stable countries are dwarfed by the already existent availability of these items within those countries. Where the national government of a country needs to protect its citizens against all forms of weapons smuggling, it has a special obligation to prevent the use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons against its population, infrastructure, services, and legitimate foreign interests: “Asymmetric CBR threats provide an adversary with significant political and force multiplier advantages, such as disruption of operational tempo, interruption/denial of access to critical infrastructure and the promulgation of fear and uncertainty in military and civilian populations. [...] Proliferation will continue to dramatically increase the threat from the use of CBR agents by states or terrorist organizations against unprotected civilian populations. Proliferation also poses an asymmetric threat against non-combatants outside the immediate theatre of conflict, including Canadians at home.”1 As such, most functional nations have embarked on integrated strategies to minimize the chances of CBRN related incidents. In general, those efforts can be categorized in five ways: supporting or directing the improvement of foreign CBRN control, detection, and enforcement; border CBRN detection equipment and domestic law enforcement training; the securing of legitimate CBRN materials within the country’s borders; improved intelligence operations to detect potential smuggling operations before they occur; and various domestic and international research and development projects to improve overall control and detection capabilities.2

Furthermore, of the CBRN threats, there are emergency measures and possible mitigations that can be taken to minimize the impact to the population and infrastructure of a successful attack with chemical, biological, or radiological weapons; however, the damage that would be inflicted should a nuclear device be detonated in a populated area would be devastating beyond measure to both the fabric and spirit of the country, its operation, and its people. Such results make special nuclear materials3 (as could be used in a nuclear bomb) particularly attractive targets for terrorists4 (“independent” or state sponsored): “Nuclear smuggling is an increasing concern for international security because creating a viable nuclear weapon only requires several kilos of plutonium or highly enriched uranium. The International Atomic Energy Agency has documented 18 cases of theft of nuclear [weapon grade] materials within the last decade, and probably more instances have occurred without report. This is especially prevalent within the former Soviet bloc, where large amounts of nuclear materials are insecurely guarded and inventories are often faultily kept.”5

Of particular concern is the realization that the view, held since World War II3, that the effort required to build a nuclear weapon was prohibitive, is no longer valid. This opinion had been based on the American experience of creating two small nuclear weapons, but it is now widely accepted that the expertise and technical capability to build a viable nuclear weapon is no longer the exclusive purview of large, economically advanced nation-states. In fact, the knowledge and infrastructure required is potentially within reach of any well-organized and funded group with sufficient long-term determination and resourcefulness: “The only real technological barrier to the clandestine construction of nuclear weapons is access to fissionable material itself. There is a growing black market for this material, and eventually demand will result in enough material reaching as-yet unidentified buyers to produce a nuclear weapon”3. In addition to the smuggling of processed special nuclear materials, given that uranium is roughly 40 times more prevalent in the Earth’s crust than is silver6, the smuggling of uranium ore or low quality extracted uranium from such ore is also a more likely possibility.

While it is widely acknowledged that “most known interdictions of weapons-useable nuclear materials have resulted from police investigations rather than by radiation detection equipment installed at border crossings”2, the asymmetric nature of the threat calls for exceptional measures in the effective detection of smuggled special nuclear and radiological materials that might make it past the intelligence operations to a port of entry into the country. Per the U.S. Container Security Initiative Strategic Plan: 2006-2011, “the cost to the U.S. Economy resulting from port closures due to the discovery or detonation of a weapon of mass destruction or effect (WMD/E) would be enormous. In October 2002, Booz, Allen and Hamilton reported that a 12-day closure required to locate an undetonated terrorist weapon at one U.S. seaport would cost approximately $58 billion. In May 2002, the Brookings Institution estimated that costs associated with U.S. port closures resulting from a detonated WMD/E could amount to $1 trillion, assuming a prolonged economic slump due to an enduring change in our ability to trade.”7 While this is a U.S. figure, it can be scaled appropriately to reflect the impact of such an event on any trading nation, or the domino effect such an act would have on global commerce if it happened anywhere.

B. Screening technologies )

1. Radiation sensors )

2. 2D imaging systems )

3. Tomographic imaging systems )

C. Muon Tomography Systems )

D. Outline of Thesis

Because of the sensitivity of Passive Muon Tomography (PμT) systems to high-Z materials (versus lighter elements) they are a much more targeted solution than more indiscriminate imaging systems, and the lack of an active radiation source eliminates the potential health concerns associated with x-ray and gamma ray imaging systems. While PμT systems only address a particular class of risk, specifically the threat posed by the trafficking of special nuclear materials that could form the basis for a bomb or large well-shielded shipments of radionuclides that could be used in a “dispersal” device, the asymmetric nature of the threat justifies the commercialization of this technology to compensate for the serious limitations of existing technologies in this area of detection. Carleton University’s proposal to use large-area drift chambers for muon detection will result in a device that will provide excellent spacial and temporal resolution with very cost effective readout electronics and data processing requirements; however, the initial requirement for a flowing gas in the first generation solution presents a negative offset through higher infrastructure and ongoing maintenance costs that would need to be mitigated as part of a widespread deployment of this particular solution.


A. Overview

Primary cosmic rays are very high energy charged particles (into the range of many TeV24) that originate mostly outside of the solar system, from astrophysical sources, and are comprised primarily of protons (~80%) and helium nuclei (~14%), with the remaining being heavier nuclei such as carbon, oxygen, and iron. These can also interact with interstellar gasses to create a much lower flux of secondary cosmic rays comprised mostly of anti-protons and lithium, beryllium, and boron nuclei23. When cosmic rays interact with the Earth’s atmosphere at high altitudes, they produce showers of thousands of “secondary” particles, usually also called “secondary cosmic rays”. Most of the particles so generated decay or interact with atmospheric atoms before they can reach the surface of the Earth; however, a shower of gamma rays, electrons, neutrons, and muons24 (due to relativistic time dilation) do reach the lower altitudes of the atmosphere and the surface itself. Of these, the cosmic ray muons are of primary interest in this application due to their high energy, penetrating power, and the relative ease that their path and momentum can be precisely determined.

B. Spectrum and properties )

C. Multiple scattering and tomographic analysis )

III. Detectors

A. Overview )

B. Drift Chambers )

1. Basic Operation )

2. Specific Topology )

3. Readout Electronics and Data Processing )

C. Scintillation counters )

IV. Implementation

A. Description of prototype project )

B. Readout Electronics )

V. Further exploration

In addition to the use of the proposed muon tomography systems in border security and container/vehicle inspection, the basic technology can be useful in other applications as well. Furthermore, with appropriate research and development, enhancements to the basic technology are possible that will reduce the total cost of ownership and operation.

A. Use as a scientific instrument

With the possibility of large area muon detectors being deployed along borders and in key strategic locations, it should be noted that each one of these devices can be used as an element in a larger cosmic ray observatory. The information on incident angle and momentum of incoming cosmic ray muons could provide a wealth of data to astrophysicists and particle physicists alike (who can analyze the data against various models developed for subatomic phenomena to support or discard various hypotheses). One major issue is that data on the contents of scanned targets cannot be shared with the general public due to security concerns. This can be addressed by sending data only when a scan is not in progress. Alternatively, if the initial momentum (before interaction with cargo) is reconstructed by projecting the final momentum backwards through the gathered tomographic data when cargo is present, there will be no way to determine anything about the contents of the scanned cargo from the data. In any case, the angular information from the top pair of detectors is gathered before any interaction with cargo and should not present any security risk as it is a purely astronomical data source at that point.

B. Developing a sealed chamber (no gas flow)

The major disadvantage of the drift chamber solution proposed by Carleton University is the need for a flowing gas mixture. If it were possible to seal the chamber and operate it for long periods without needing service, then it would be both cost effective from a readout electronics perspective and from the longer term operational cost and complexity perspective through the elimination of the need to manage gas supplies and disposal. Much work has been done over the years on sealed gas ionization based detectors, and research and development in this area could have a large impact on the cost of muon tomography systems in the field.

C. Use of active muon source system

One of the issues with using cosmic ray muons as a source of radiation for tomographic purposes is their relatively low flux (1 muon (cm2 min)-1). This low flux means that it takes at roughly a minute for a basic scan to determine whether there is any high-Z material of concern. By using an artificial source for a higher muon flux, it could be possible to do the scans faster or to build a more complete tomographic image of the contents of a shipping container or other target of interest. The issue is, of course, that this introduces a vary dangerous ionizing radiation source to the situation and the lack of any additional radiation is one of the attractive elements to using cosmic rays muons as the probe.

D. Use in sealed-container inventory determination and management

There are many installations, for instance Chalk River in Ontario, where there are sealed containers with unknown quantities of potentially dangerous materials in them. There are also situations where contents of containers are claimed to contain certain materials, but need to be verified as part of nuclear control treaties. In those cases, cosmic ray muon tomography could provide an excellent tool for cataloguing and monitoring the contents of these containers. Since this is more of an audit application, the lower flux and time to acquire the necessary level of data are not as much of an issue as for applications that impinge on commerce.

VI. Conclusion

Passive cosmic ray muon tomography systems present an excellent solution to the issue of deterring and detecting the trafficking in nuclear and radiological materials – in the first case through direct detection of high-Z materials, and in the second case, being able to detect high-Z shielding that might be hiding lower-Z radiological materials. The system further distinguishes itself by not introducing any new sources of radiation, thus sidestepping any potential health or safety concerns from the public or business. Carleton University’s proposed drift chamber muon detectors build upon decades of experience in implementing high resolution muon analysis systems, and can be used to determine to a high degree of accuracy both angular and momentum data on the muons passing through a detector system for analysis by the tomographic software. The low cost of readout electronics compensates for the higher cost due to the requirement for gas-filled chambers, and will result in a competitive solution for field-deployable systems.

VII. References )
pheloniusfriar: (Default)
This was a short reflection paper I wrote as part of my “Activism, Feminisms & Social Justice” class back in 2013. I had posted the research essay associated with it some time ago, which was done before the exercise, which was before this reflection. Unfortunately, the radio show I did is no longer available on demand... I should find out if the media is still available so I can make it available as a podcast... hmmm... one more thing to do, right? I should mention up here, before reading the essay, that the feminist show mentioned did happen, ran for over a year, and eventually wrapped up when the host ran out of spare time to produce the show. It was wonderful while it lasted though! Here's the paper...

Mental Health Issues and Breaking The Stigma of Labels: A Reflection

As part of the WGST2801 “Activism, Feminisms & Social Justice” Winter 2013 course at Carleton University, it was a requirement to form subgroups within the class, each of which was to mount an activist feminist project on campus. The notion was to take an activity from conceptualization through implementation and then reflect on the process, all within the theoretical frameworks of feminism and of praxis itself. There is something to be said for exposing people to this sort of activity early in their post-secondary education as a way of expanding their capabilities. However, the notion of forcing students to participate in an activist project to qualify for any sort of accreditation in Women and Gender Studies at the university (Carleton University) is a problematic undertaking. Specifically, real harm can be done to those involved if they are unprepared, there is insufficient oversight, or something bad just happens. Conversely, to allow students to receive accreditation without engaging in any sort of praxis is equally problematic to the feminist effort, and has led to deep divisions within the movement over the years (Kerlee). A fine line needs to be walked in introducing a formalized activist framework to students, and it is my conclusion that WGST2801 was too much, too soon, for most participants. Much of the opportunity to learn and grow was lost as a result of having to diffuse the limited amount of students’ time and effort available into so many areas of operation. A more gradual and measured engagement with praxis through each year of an undergraduate degree, culminating in a full project as was attempted here – but in fourth year – would better serve to inspire and inform the next generation of well-rounded feminist activist scholars.

To initiate the projects, all students were guided through a brainstorming session to identify relevant issues of concern, and then through a voting process to create a short list. Due to the class size, it was broken into two main subgroups: four morning tutorials and four afternoon tutorials, and each main subgroup voted for four topics from the overall class list. Five topics were chosen to be shared amongst the eight tutorial groups: LGBTQ, Mental Health, and Reproductive Rights being selected by both morning and afternoon main subgroups, then Media Literacy by the morning subgroup, and Anti-Racism/Indigenous Rights by the afternoon subgroup. We then, based on whether we were in morning or afternoon tutorials, signed up for the topic we were interested in on a first-come basis. I signed up for the morning subgroup on Mental Health. We were then individually required to write a research essay to inform our activism while simultaneously deciding as a group on the specific focus for, and approach to, the topic we were working on. We were then to execute the project as a group with the guidance of the teaching assistants and professor – who provided feedback on ethical and practicality issues with regards to our proposed actions. Once complete, we were to write this reflections paper as a means of critically analyzing the work that was done, and the process itself. The actual execution of the project for our group took place on Monday, March 4th in the Atrium on the 4th floor of the Carleton Unicentre. Formal promotion of the event started the previous Wednesday with a one hour long radio show done by four members of the group and broadcast live on CKCU (CKCU), and followed up with posters placed around campus.

The rest of the essay is here... )

Unfortunately, we did not learn as much as we could and should have through this project. Firstly, due to the design of the course, the spectral goblin of the readings and the final exam haunted the process. It also seemed that the majority of participants had somewhat more than part time jobs on top of school, and that created huge logistic problems that required we use the tutorial sessions to organize the event. The way the course was structured also meant that there was a disproportionate theoretical component that had to be addressed. While it is entirely appropriate and necessary to ensure a strong grounding in feminist and activist theory for any undertakings in such a class, a set of core readings and then specific ones depending on the topics chosen would have helped tremendously in achieving better cohesion, and a more manageable workload. Given the wildly varying levels of knowledge, experience, and skill of the participants, a series of highly focused seminars (in class or in tutorial) at the start of term on the components and efforts that make up any activist campaign would have helped create a more equitable environment for everyone to operate in. More effort could also have been spent finding out the strengths of the participants, and students could have presented half-hour mini-seminars on some aspect of their own experiences or skillset. For instance, I have been trained professionally as a project manager, but there was no room for me to share any of that knowledge. Others worked in the community, both in institutions and literally on the street, and I would have loved to have had a session from them. In retrospect, a two hour tutorial would have been more appropriate: one hour guided or structured, and the other hour where the space was simply made available to the group to use in the organization process. Another small thing that likely would have made a tremendous difference to the cohesion and shared knowledge of the group would have been to encourage us to share the research essays we wrote once we had our marks back, possibly even anonymously (not making it mandatory in case someone was uncomfortable in doing so). A tremendous learning experience was missed there, I believe.

Despite the issues the group faced, as discussed above, the project was very successful and had an excellent outcome within the parameters it had to operate within. I did however become convinced through the effort that a more gradual approach to building a functional activist toolkit would be more encouraging and less problematic than what we had to do. I would envision preparing an information table or other small project in second year from a fixed set of well-defined topics, with the TA acting as project manager and facilitator for the teams. During second year activism classes, the techniques and theory of activism would be conveyed. In the third year, the theoretical underpinnings of activist efforts could be explored and participants could be teamed with a 4th year group. In the fourth year, a full group project would have to mounted – from conceptualization through implementation, much like what we had to do in this class. I know that some participants this year were put off of activism because of the demands that we all become Jacks, or Jills as the case may be, of all trades. The skillset needed, and the confidence that comes with it, need to be built up gradually to encourage lifelong activism. A patient approach in this area, I believe, would have a much more profound impact on those seeking a degree in Women and Gender studies, or those that are simply taking the course for their own interest.

And the bibliography and footnotes are here... )
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I have been ever so gently brushed with the most peripheral of emanations from the recently awarded Nobel Prize in Physics by my presence at Carleton University (and the fact I just recently visited SNOLAB where the science happened... with Dr. David Sinclair himself, no less, as our "tour guide"). Here's some links and a few more pictures I took on that trip:

Dr. David Sinclair, founder of SNOLAB, expounding in SNOLAB:

A look down into a new working area. SNOLAB is already a cleanroom, but smaller temporary ultra-clean cleanrooms are sometimes set up within it for specific experiments (often for cleaning and assembly of sensitive components). You can see one here (the tent-like thing) and another that was open but could be made into a cleanroom again if needed. For scale, those are full height grey storage shelves toward the top of the photo, and a workbench to the left (the green hose thing on the right of the photo above can be seen on the bench in this picture... it's taken from pretty high above). One of the experiments we saw being worked on there was DEAP, an experiment that will be looking for direct evidence of dark matter interactions (a thing we know almost nothing about, and have never observed, but which seems to make up 27% of our universe).

This photo is a reminder that SNOLAB is 2km underground. First, the white coating over the rocks is to keep the dust and small rock fragments from falling into the laboratory that is cut out of the rock. The yellow plates (which are everywhere) are terminators for huge cables that were driven deep into the rock surrounding the human-made caverns, and that keep the surrounding rock under tremendous tension so it doesn't just relax and collapse in on the hole we have dug to work in. Apparently if the blowers ever stop for maintenance, you can sometimes hear rock quakes (and sometimes even with the blowers going). I have been told it is one of the most terrifying things a person can experience.

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Remember how I said I spent my summer in 2014 chained to a radioactive block of concrete for three weeks? Well, I exaggerated... I wasn't actually physically chained... I spent every waking moment there of my own free volition (most of it really exited to be doing something so amazing) to help see that the project we were working on (PDF) gave us the data we needed. It was months of intensive preparation to get there, and what was supposed to have been a part-time consulting role for me turned into a key role with the data acquisition setup for the project. For all that it was certainly a highlight of my career so far as a physicist (and pretty much one of coolest things I have ever done in any capacity), I was seriously over-committed during that project and spent months afterward trying to get back into a groove (which never really happened). But... and here's a big but... I will soon have my name on an article in a peer-reviewed journal (Nuclear Instrument and Methods in Physics Research A) for the effort. I have been published in conference proceedings and have given presentations to some pretty amazing groups, which certainly gets some credit, but being published in a major journal is the full meal deal. Given my place in the grander scheme of things, this is a huge accomplishment for me, and hopefully presages wondrous things to come! A pre-press version of the paper was just released on if you want to take a look at how I spend my summer vacations these days (a PDF will open in a new tab):

Performance of a Full-Size Small-Strip Thin Gap Chamber Prototype for the ATLAS New Small Wheel Muon Upgrade

When it is formally published in NIM, I will definitely be having a major personal celebration!
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To start on a positive note, I have completed my summer courses: Ordinary Differential Equations II, and Introduction to Anishinaabe-Ojibwe. I suspect I got a good mark in the Ojibwe language class (miigwech Prof. Jean), but am still waiting on the results from my exam before the final mark is posted. I did sort of meh in the math class, but I think I will get an acceptable mark. Things have gone pretty badly for my physics degree because I actually failed a critical class that is a dependency for the last two core 4th year classes I need to take to finish up my degree. Sigh. I did say it has been a hard year for me. I will finish all my required classes this coming year except for those last two 4th-year Quantum Mechanics courses. On the plus side, it means that this coming year will be more survivable than the previous one. There's a lot of family stuff going on for me... not bad stuff, but stuff that is taking a tremendous amount of my time... that really pounded me hard this past year (on top of too much work as a Research Assistant apparently, and getting what the doctors suspect was viral pneumonia at the end of the winter term, which helped to lead to the failing of that class... I was surprisingly sick now that I look back at it). I'll use the extra time in school this year to improve my marks in a couple of classes I took but didn't shine in, to finish up the last (but two) credits I need for my physics degree, to retake the course I failed, and to ... ummm, finish the requirements for an Honours degree in Feminist Studies (officially Women's and Gender Studies). As I indicated previously, I had completed the requirements already for a B.A. General in it, but only need to take a few more courses to get a B.A. Honours, and since I have the time apparently... I might as well do it all. I found out today that Happy was accepted into the same university as I'm at for the fall term (she was on a waiting list before), and Beep continues to do really well in her schooling too (hopefully she'll finish up this phase of it this coming year — it is looking very positive, but there's a lot of work left to do).

I'm heading off to the UofT tomorrow to do physics Research Assistant stuff (going to spend a few evenings and all of Sunday doing touristy things). I'm doing work on the data acquisition hardware and software for the Phase II upgrades (due to be complete in 2025) of the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). They build the first few Canadian-made sensor modules in Toronto and I'm going there to see if the software/hardware I have can talk to them so we'll be ready at Carleton when they start showing up to test. I should be back in time to do my radio show Wednesday morning.

The fall school term starts for me two Thursdays from now... ugh. Until next time, "It's made out of f***ing cookies........ !!!!!"

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Hmmm... I just realized I haven't posted an essay in a while, something easily rectified (since I have many essays to post still). I have completed the requirements for a B.A. in Women's and Gender Studies (which I still call Feminist Studies) and continue to debate whether to put the moxie into getting a full Honours degree in the subject (I am continuing to slog away at my more technical degrees as well). I do have to say that I apply what I have learned in my everyday living and think I do it in a way that is constructive and not overbearing... it's a very powerful toolkit for looking at the world and has formalized many of the ways I already looked at things (and thrown a few new ideas in there as well). This was the final essay for a 4th year course called "Digital Lives in Global Spaces" that looked at the construction and reconstruction of how we define gender and society in general in a globalized and technologized world (to brutally make up a word). I got a pretty good mark on it even though it's somewhat middling in terms of how I thought it turned out (it's a bit confused in places I find... the prof thought so as well and commented that it marred an otherwise interesting essay). Either way, here ya go.

Blurring Gender Boundaries For Technology

There is no aspect of culture and society that is not somehow deeply entwined with constructions of gender, and the processes used for and artifacts created by technological innovation is in no way exempt. While this results in egregiously gendered products like pink tools and toolboxes1 and pink handguns and rifles2 to purportedly make them more attractive to women and young girls, these tend to be the low hanging fruit for criticism. It is the non-obvious gendering of technology that is more insidious – requiring careful analytic skills to effectively deconstruct, understand, and hopefully challenge how gender is manifest within them. However, if it was simply that technological constructs mirrored the hegemonic gendering so prevalent in society, this would only represent a fraction of the real problem being faced. Rather, it is the ways that technology in turn informs and reinforces how gender is constructed and performed that implements a critical channel of that hegemony. Every aspect and moment of our lives, in every part of the world, is deeply reliant on some form of technology for survival and the construction and maintenance of culture – be that a tool for digging furrows or the latest smartphone. The ubiquity of technology is what makes the messages we receive from that medium so powerful. To that end, if the conformity of invention to normative gender standards is the start of the problem, then that creative process needs to be broadened to be more inclusive of other ways of being and thinking, and if gender is the issue, then queer theory provides a powerful toolkit to apply towards solutions.

The rest of the essay is here... )

With the dominance and ubiquity of the Internet as a mediator of global cultures, a queer approach to existence does not have to be a local phenomenon – it can be demonstrated on a broad scale, and in ways that are difficult to challenge in the long run (as we saw in class, there are many brutal ways online to challenge perceived deviance in the short term). As the GamerGate fiasco has shown, the patience of the accepting majority is wearing thin with abusive behaviour online, and companies like Twitter and Facebook are finally starting to realize that their profits are in jeopardy if they do not provide the tools to their users to combat the online bullying of those that certain communities have deemed to be stepping out of line – a queering of these platforms has, in some ways, begun, and the respect and celebration of difference is starting to make inroads. If this way of thinking can become a dominant discourse, then the rejection of gendered hegemonies in the production and use of technologies of all kinds will become an acceptable possibility for more people. The tipping point will be when sufficient numbers of people can identify that a technical process or artifact exhibits an unwelcome or unnecessary gendered dimension, and have the courage and support to reject the identity that technology wishes to impose upon them. In the former, feminism has provided a robust toolset that can teach how we can become observant of gendered power structures; in the latter, queer theory and culture both shows and demonstrates that it is okay to reject those imposed identities.

And the bibliography and footnotes are here... )
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Well paint me purple and call me Barney, I have just confirmed that I have completed the requirements for a B.A. General in Women's and Gender Studies (WGST) at Carleton University (or "Feminist Studies" as I like to call it)! I will contemplate over the next few months whether to put in the extra effort (and probably one more semester of studies) in order to get a full B.A. Honours in the subject so I could potentially have the credentials to do post-graduate work in the field. Oddly enough, the marks I have in that subject are head and shoulders above what I'm getting in my primary (B.Sc.) degree program. Go figure. I will confirm again, but I do not believe I can apply for admission to the B.A. WGST program until I have completed the B.Sc. Honours Physics (Theory) degree program and graduated... even if I have completed all of the requirements for the B.A.. You are apparently not allowed to graduate with more than one degree at a time (except where particular dual degree programs are offered by the university, and then it's more of a combined degree rather than two separate degrees). Not a big deal. Having actually finished the requirements for something (anything) does mean that I am making progress even though it feels some days like I'm just floundering helplessly. I was really sick at the end of the term and had to defer my exam in mathematical physics, but I did complete the two WGST courses I was taking this past semester (thanks to the professors being very flexible), and thus completed the requirements for the B.A. General this semester (one was the last "core course" I needed to take for the degree, "Feminist Research": I got an "A+" [wtf???]; and the other was a 3rd year course called "Transnationalism and Feminism": I got an "A-" [woot!]).

Plans for today: continue cleaning my room (it is just cluttered and I need it to be not cluttered), start studying again for my mathematical physics exam in mid-June (I want to do at least one or two hours of mathematics and physics every day this summer... I really need to become, as my mathematical physics professors stated, more "agile" at doing math if I want to be successful next year in some extremely hard subjects), get a +/-15V power supply built so I can finally play with the vocoder kit I built several months ago (a PAiA model 6710... it has just been sitting there waiting for power, ugh), book a flight for sometime this week so I can get signed out for being able to rent planes solo again (I have not been consistent and you have to fly with a certain frequency or you have to get "checked out" by an instructor to be signed out at the flying club for solo flights... a policy that makes excellent sense, imho), I will be having delicious tacos for dinner tonight, and I will catch up on the two free Coursera courses I'm taking at the moment: "Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided" by The World Bank (of all people... but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt to access much amazing information and lectures by dozens of scientists and policy makers), and "Web Application Architectures" from the University of New Mexico (a course giving the basics of Ruby on Rails, something I can probably leverage nicely for some of my ideas). Maybe I'll start re-reading Stephenson's "The Diamond Age" before going to sleep tonight (one of my favourite books!). I was basically slammed hard until the wee hours of the morning on Saturday when I turned in the last course work that was due this past semester, and spent most of the weekend drooling on myself (metaphorically speaking)... so it's time to slowly get to the things I have been unable to get to with school pressing so hard on me that past year.

Plans for tomorrow: probably just a continuation of today, heh, I can't imagine finishing all of that before I fall unconscious tonight ;).
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Heh, I realized that by taking that math course this summer (which does count towards a requirement for my theoretical physics degree), I'm also going to have completed the requirements for a minor in mathematics as well. I applied for a change to my program to add the math minor and it was approved. Yet another little surprise on the overall surprising journey I'm on.
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Wednesday I'm getting on a plane and flying from Ottawa to Toronto to Seattle to Spokane (translation: you can't get there from here). I'll be flying the "red eye" from Spokane to Seattle to Chicago to Ottawa (see previous assertion) on the way back... leaving at 8:30PM Saturday and arriving at 1:32PM on Sunday. I believe the administrator's assertion that it was the cheapest airfares they could find ;). While in glorious Spokane, I will be staying at the similarly glorious Super 8, which is only a 20 minute drive to the nearest shuttle service to the conference. It would be nice if we had a car, but we don't. And nothing says undergraduate like having to share a room with another student at a Super 8. But here I go again. I wonder if this roommate will be up all night playing the ukelele like that time in Sudbury? He was really good at least... We shall see what wonders present themselves.

So, what brings me to Spokane I hear you ask? (yes, I'm right behind you this very second as you read this... psych!). I will be presenting at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research about some of the work I have done, specifically the work I did on the small-strip Thin Gap Chambers (sTGC) for the 2018 Phase I upgrades of the New Small Muon Wheel of the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider when I was at Fermilab for that Test Beam last year. I can also preview some of the work I'm doing now for the 2025 Phase II upgrades of the Inner Tracker (ITk) of the ATLAS detector (one slide... just a teaser). I will be going there with two other Carleton University undergraduate students: one presenting on (I'm going to get this wrong, sorry) education strategies for children I think, and the other on Newfoundland folk songs about disasters (I'm a huge fan of east-coast folk music, so I'm looking forward to this one especially... maybe he'll sing in our hotel room... or play a concertina or something... maybe I should bring mine along, lol, and we can jam). The description and time of the talk is here if you are curious or want to drop by to say hello.

The main issue is that classes are still in session at Eastern Washington University where it's being held, but we're into the exam period at Carleton University... I still have a number of assignments to complete and hand in before I fly out, I had to reschedule my feminist research exam because it was to be written while I was away (the professor is graciously allowing me to write it on Tuesday, which is still a panic situation given everything else I've got going on and the fact I was terribly ill all this past week with a high (40°C/104°F) fever and am still really weak, but I still appreciate it... it's easier than trying to get an invigilator in Spokane). I also have what will be a brutal exam on the 21st in mathematical physics that I have to somehow find the time to study for. I also suspect that having an actual presentation when I show up in Spokane would be a good idea (I have most of the bits and pieces already, I just need to buff it up a little, but it is yet another thing). Some of my classmates from the feminist studies course are going to get together tomorrow at noon for a study session, so perhaps some help can be gotten there. I partnered with another classmate on doing the research project for the class and we turned it in on Thursday, so at least that's off the table now (although I don't think it's appropriate that a 3rd year report ended up being 50+ pages long when all is said and done). Well, off to re-read an article so I can summarize it for my classmates tomorrow (who are supposed to reciprocate with ones of their own from our required readings list): Bev Gatenby and Maria Humphries' "Feminist Participatory Action Research: Methodological and Ethical Issues", fyi, is the one I'm doing. Wish me luck.

Oh, I've decided to quit my job as a Research Assistant for the summer and focus on overcoming the serious burnout I seem to be experiencing (yes, I can hear the gasps of surprise... not). I will take two summer courses only. Now, I will be nominally volunteering as a Research Assistant over the summer, furthering the work I have already been doing, but it will be without deadlines or having to come in every day. The two courses I am currently signed up for (this may change, there are many conflicting and competing possibilities and I have a few weeks to modify my choices) are Ordinary Differential Equations II ("Series solutions of ordinary differential equations of second order about regular singular points; asymptotic solutions. Systems of ordinary differential equations of first order; matrix methods. Existence and uniqueness theorems. Nonlinear autonomous systems of order 2; qualitative theory. Numerical solutions of ordinary differential equations.") and Intro to Anishinaabe-Ojibwe ("Introductory study of a selected language. Oral skills; basic reading and writing skills. Language offered: Anishinaabemowin. For students learning the language for the 1st time.").

Over the summer my plan is to finish the renovations in the basement (only one thing left to do: a wall along the stairs to keep the cats out... I've had a wall of boxes doing the job until now) and set up my music studio finally... I have all the equipment, I just need to set up the space and haven't had the time or energy. I also want to paint some of the rooms in the house... I've seriously grown tired of the industrial off-white they painted it before I moved in (and crappy quality paint of that crappy "colour") and need something a little more energizing and fun. Beige is not fun. I am also hoping to work on some of my business ideas, but that is more of a "tinkering" sort of thing than serious work with deadlines as well. I plan to sleep a lot this summer... maybe do some hiking and camping (although I'm a little leery about camping given the rather staggeringly horrific tales I already have to tell from previous [ad]ventures). I really want to head up to the Lusk Caves at least and do some spelunking. Oh, and I'm going to work on my commercial pilot's license too with a view to finishing it up in the fall (yes, I've been working on it for far too long, but I'm quite close now, I just need to get in a lot of practice, which takes time and money... the time part has actually been the limiting factor as I even have cash on my account that I haven't used up... sigh...). There's also a nominal plan of driving down to North Carolina for a week to visit friends, but that's very much up in the air given the fact that I won't be gainfully employed this summer (I have some money, but not lots). While it sounds like I still have a lot on my plate, most of it is optional type stuff to do if I'm up to it, but to pass on otherwise. I really have needed to do some stuff for myself and my household and that is going to go a long way to reducing the stress I've been feeling.

Enough update... off to read academic articles!
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I am still trying to get around to posting about the rest of my last trip to Germany... before my next trip to Germany in 5 weeks... but I dug down to the surface of the desk in my room and found a sheet of paper that reminded me I had wanted to post some definitions and a (very) short essay I had to write out for an exam in a first year feminist studies class I took a couple of summers ago (I only have one more core course, that I'm taking next term, and then a handful of electives and I will have completed the requirements for a degree in the subject... this class was also a required class for the degree program). I just tallied my marks from the latest course I took (WGST4804: Digital Lives in Global Spaces), and it looks like my final mark is going to be an A. Now if only I could pull a few of those with my physics degree ;). With any further adieu, here are some definitions and a short essay.

Define each of the following terms in paragraph-length answers: 1) Reproductive Justice, 2) Rape Culture, 3) Compulsory Able-Bodiedness, 4) Queer, 5) Fatphobia.

Reproductive Justice: Definition is under the cut... )

Rape Culture: Definition is under the cut... )

Compulsory Able-Bodiedness: Definition is under the cut... )

queer Definition is under the cut... )

Fatphobia: Definition is under the cut... )

In a 2 page handwritten essay, reflect on how the terms you’ve just defined can help you develop a set of ideas that draw links between society, power relations, and one’s physical body. What are the themes that link these terms to each other? How can these themes be used to build a set of ideas about gender that are informed by feminist thinking? How can these terms be used to challenge normative ways of thinking? In your answer, you must make reference to the terms but do not need to define them. No outside sources are needed.

The short essay answer is here... )

And the citations are here... )
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