Mics

I’ve been so distracted for the past couple of days that I forgot to mention one of the more noteworthy events of the week. On Wednesday evening, VoiceLab had a recording session for our first CD. The group’s already recorded many tracks for their CD, and I’ve recorded two others, so it’s not broadly a novel experience, but the interest is always in the details.

We were recording in a professional, a-cappella-centric studio. The studio has three soundproofed, isolated rooms, and so we recorded in groups of three, each person in one room, wearing headphones so we could hear each other. The headphones also played the original of the song that we are covering, and a metronome to keep us in rhythm.

The producer who owns this studio also lives in it; it’s actually built into his house. This is not so unusual, for producers. In fact, he built it all himself, mostly by converting his attic… and it’s not quite finished. There are still stray construction supplies lying about, and there are some distinct gaps in the drywall and hardwood floors. Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful place, brightly painted and fresh-seeming.

The group doesn’t particularly have a lot of money to spend on recording, and so I was initially surprised that we were recording in a professional studio. As it turns out, the producer who owns this studio is also a member of the group, though currently on a leave of absence.

He graciously gave us a very nice discount.

Progress

Tonight I passed an important milestone in lab. I was able to acquire ultrasound echo data, process it into a position, and then use that position information to control the MRI acquisition in real time. I could grab my ultrasound phantom, move it back and forth, and observe the MRI image moving to match the motion. That means I’m just a few steps away from demonstrating real-time motion correction.

It’s very exciting.

Grapefruit Marmalade recipe

Ingredients:
2 large grapefruits
1 lemon Hmm, I don’t have a lemon. Well, whatever
4 cups granulated sugar. I don’t have any granulated sugar, but I do have some confectioner’s powdered sugar. That should be fine.

Instructions:
Shave off some of the grapefruit rind for flavoring. This grapefruit looks kind of ugly, which is why I wanted to make it into marmalade in the first place, so I think I’ll just throw away the rind.

Peel grapefruits and cut into pieces. Spend a lot of time picking out dozens of tiny seeds. Put in a bowl and mix with two cups of water, then boil for 10 minutes.

Cover mixture and place somewhere cool overnight. No. Maybe that makes sense if you’re trying to soak the rind or something, but I didn’t put in any rind, so … whatever, let’s just keep boiling it.

Add 4 cups of granulated 2 and 3/4 cups of confectioners sugar. I probably should have checked how much sugar I had before starting cooking…

Boil for 10 more minutes, then pour into jars for canning. I don’t have any canning jars, but don’t you have to boil it for like 15 minutes when you’re canning? Let’s just keep boiling it.

It still looks pretty soupy. I think I’m just gonna boil it for like an hour.

OK, now it really looks pretty thick, which is good, ’cause I’m not trying to make a syrup here. Let’s pour it off into a jar…

OMG, the whole thing fits into this jar?! That’s less than a pint. That’s actually less volume than the sugar or grapefruit alone! This stuff is going to be really strong.

Refigerate overnight.

Makes:
Almost a pint of deep red jelly that tastes very mildly of grapefruit. Not really a marmalade at all, but pretty good stuff.

Back

I got back to Boston today, pretty wiped from the weekend at home. I blame the pillows, and the East-facing windows, more than the revelry.

The party was lovely, very much as usual. There was a very silly, nominally surprise celebration of my passing the PQE, complete with a labeled Costco cake. As a result, an endless stream of people seemed to come up to me, wish me congratulations, and then ask what a PQE is.

My mother left me a bag of questionable-looking citrus fruit with a note: “keep refrigerated, eat soon!”. In an attempt to use up some of the grapefruits, I set out to make a grapefruit marmalade. It seems to have turned into more of a simple reduction, but I’ll know by tomorrow if it worked. It’s certainly an astonishing shade of deep red.

Surely

I haven’t had much to report this week, until Friday. On Thursday night I had some magnet time reserved, and I came in Friday to do the analysis. Somehow I left my laptop, along with all my image reconstruction code, at home. Rather than bike the round-trip again, I recoded the missing pieces of the reconstruction from memory (and redebugged them).

The results, though not beautiful, are certainly my most convincing demonstration yet of motion compensation. It is unquestionably working.

Of course, there’s plenty more to do; this is only the very first step, and it’s taken much longer than I ever expected. Nonetheless, it’s an encouraging feeling.

I’m going home to Westport this weekend for my parents’ annual Memorial Day picnic, which has been running for decades now. I wonder if we’ve destroyed all of the badminton birdies again yet.

Celebration

I held a small celebration today to mark the end of the PQE, with cheese and crackers, tea and scones, and a chocolate fondue with fruit and a personal favorite sort of peanut-butter fudge. It was an unqualified success, and ran through the whole afternoon and into the evening.

Last night was a dinner in honor of my cousin Jake’s graduation from BU, at La Dolce Vita in the North End. The area was flooded with celebrating families, and our 7:30 reservation didn’t get us seated until after 8. Despite the delay, and decor of questionable taste, the food was excellent, and the company better still.

I have decided (on my grandparents’ advice) to contest the $270 speeding ticket. After a closer inspection of the road maps and traffic laws, I have concluded that the officer’s interpretation of the speed limit postings was incorrect. The last posted speed limit was on an entirely different road, and so the region in question was actually an unposted divided multilane superhighway, not a posted 30-mph zone. Regardless, I was traveling at a safe speed. Perhaps I will get a chance to convince a judge of this fact.

Passed

I passed my PQE. I am now a Ph.D. candidate.

I didn’t do very well. I’m glad it’s not graded. I think they probably would have made me rewrite the proposal, but the experiment I proposed is simply impossible, so no amount of rewriting can fix it.

On the other hand, it was fun to be in a room with a bunch of experts, debating an idea. It might have worked better if they were experts in my field, and if we had been debating an idea that makes sense, but it was still fun.

$270

I was written my first speeding ticket today, for $270. The officer claimed I was going 57 MPH, which I doubt. I was on a dead-straight, nearly empty multi-lane highway going downhill, though, so it’s not impossible. The speed limit on this perfectly smooth stretch of concrete? 30 MPH.

For the record, the tunnel immediately following the Tobin Bridge, going towards Boston and onto I-93 is a classic, perfect speed trap.

It’s taken me a while to figure out why the speed limit there is so low. I tried to remember what the posted limit was, but I couldn’t remember seeing one. That’s because there is no posted limit in this zone, which means it inherits the preceding speed limit. That limit is set in the braking zone for the toll plaza at the end of the bridge, which is why it’s so strangely low.

The most frustrating thing about this, apart from it being 9:30 PM and my still not having had dinner, is that the traffic stop intrinsically proved that I was traveling at a safe speed. The police officer in question was stopping multiple cars at a time by walking out into the traffic lanes and flagging people down. I was able to stop smoothly and without panic-braking in response to an unexpected obstacle.

I am not in a good mood.

Tock

One of the researchers in a biology group that shares some lab space with us recently mentioned, in the lunchroom, that his uncle was one of the artists who worked on the The Tick comics. He explained that he was responsible for designing the lettering, and also that

He made The Tick blue.