Archive for the 'Personal' category

Departing Scientopia...

Oct 06 2010 Published by under Personal

So I've finally come to making a decision that I've been agonizing over for the past few weeks: I've decided to leave Scientopia and return to my WordPress blog at

Suffice to say that this isn't due to any problems with the Scientopia crowd, who are awesome; I really just feel that I'm not that comfortable at this time being part of a collective.

Thanks to everyone in the Scientopia crowd for their camaraderie during the past couple of months, and I'll see everyone on the internet and twitter!

As I've noted, you can find me back at, starting more or less immediately, with the usual RSS feed.

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Kitty fostering: Mango and Mandarin!

Oct 04 2010 Published by under Animals, Personal

We've had a new pair of foster kitties in our house for over a week, but I haven't been able to get pictures of them because they've been hiding under the bed! On Sunday, Terry of F.U.R.R. (whose rescue kitties we're fostering) came to our rescue and helped us move them to another room with fewer hiding spots.

Tonight we had our first real one-on-one (without Terry) interaction with the cats. These two -- sister and brother Mango and Mandarin -- are much less acclimated to people than our previous fosters and take much more effort to work with at this stage. They were hiding under a dresser when we came in and we had to gently pull them out -- with much hissing -- and make them interact. In short, as trained by Terry, you calmly follow them around until they get bored and allow you to pet them.

And don't you know it, it worked! We got both kitties out and purring and being generally okay with us petting them. They were calm enough for us to get some pictures. Here's Mandarin:

And here's Mango:

They're beautiful kitties, and actually quite docile once they've calmed down! If you know anyone in the vicinity of Charlotte interested in adopting these two, please point them towards Terry at F.U.R.R.! You can also donate to F.U.R.R. here.

5 responses so far

Vote for kitty Sasha!

Sep 14 2010 Published by under Animals, Personal

I can't resist doing a mini-bleg: vote for our kitty Sasha as cutest pet in the American Express Cutest Pet Photo Contest! The pic you're looking for is:

Voting runs to 10/1/2010, and you can vote every day for Sasha! We're way behind (I'm pretty sure folks are gaming the system), but the benefits of winning aren't trivial -- we could win a $2000 gift card.

The only catch is that they ask for an email on first voting. They aren't verifying emails, however, so you can put pretty much anything in to thwart future correspondence. You will lose out on a chance for a $375 gift card if you don't use your own email, though.

At this point, it's partly about pride for me -- Sasha is way cuter than some of those other animals, and deserves more votes!

(Okay, I'm done begging -- back to science blogging!)

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Kitty fostering success!

Sep 12 2010 Published by under Animals, Personal

Almost two weeks ago, I noted the arrival of two foster kitties in our home: Brewster and Breyer!  Well, I'm happy to say that we dropped them off at their new hopefully "forever home" this evening!

This was all done with the help of (and helping) Terry who runs F.U.R.R. — Feline Urgent Rescue and Rehabilitation.  We'll almost certainly be fostering some more cats in the near future, and I'll keep folks posted on events as they progress.

In the meantime, here are some final shots of Brewster and Breyer, so I can remember how sweet they are!

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Kitty fostering: Brewster and Breyer!

Aug 31 2010 Published by under [Etc], Animals, Personal

I'll be doing more physics blogging in the near future -- I promise!  Work is keeping me quite busy at the moment and I haven't had much spare time or energy to investigate topics in depth.  Hopefully that will change in the future, but for now I thought I'd share some other news -- we're fostering two sweet kitties!

Last week, the wife and I were at the local PetSmart, where we met Terry who runs F.U.R.R. -- Feline Urgent Rescue and Rehabilitation--  a rescue shelter that specializes in so-called feral cats and socializing them for homes.  We went and visited Terry's "kitty lodge" and learned about the daily operations of the shelter, and are still contemplating volunteering!

In the meantime, we couldn't help but agree to foster a couple of cats! Every cat that can be fostered makes more room for the shelter to rescue another animal, which made it hard for us to resist. Our new houseguests are handsome brothers named Brewster and Breyer!

Breyer is a big boy, though not all of that size is due to long fur (he's a little round right now):

His brother is Brewster is a smaller, short-haired cat, and clearly takes his cues from big bro:

Both boys were a little scared when we first got them home, but within half a day they turned into the most lovable kitties you could imagine:

(I actually had a hard time getting pics of them, because they spent most of their time rolling around on their backs right in front of me or rubbing up against me.)

For those who are already doubting that we're actually "fostering" and not "adopting", as in some previous attempts, let me state that the wife and I are allergic to short-haired cats, and therefore can't keep these two.  They are adorable, however, so if you know anybody in the vicinity of Charlotte that would be interested in adopting these two lovely boys, please point them towards Terry at F.U.R.R.!  You can also donate to F.U.R.R. here.

Incidentally, if you're wondering how the other cats are handling things, let's just say they're curious and a little nervous right now.  Here's a picture from outside the guest room we're keeping the boys in:

5 responses so far

Archives are up!

Aug 05 2010 Published by under Personal

I put in a little extra time this evening and managed to figure out how to transfer my blog archives over to the new site here!  Everything seems to be present and accounted for, though I may have to check whether the links are correct or not.

Anyway, if you're new to my blogging and want to check out my earlier work, now you can do it all in one place!

(Update: I have a lot of LaTeX repairing to do, and a lot of link fixing to do!)

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Educate or bust!

Jul 30 2010 Published by under Personal

Welcome to the new incarnation of Skulls in the Stars here at Scientopia! The title of this post refers to the title of an unpublished Robert E. Howard story, and also sounds like a perfect way to describe my goals here. I’m a professor of Physics and Optical Science at UNC Charlotte who has a love of science and "weird" fiction; a blog seemed like a perfect place to explore both topics, and even their surprising interconnections!

Of scientific topics, I cover primarily optics and general physics, with a large amount of posts on the history of these fields.  My interests in "weird" fiction are focused primarily on horror, sci-fi, and fantasy of the 1930s and earlier, though I do discuss more recent stuff as the mood strikes me.  The combination of science and "weird" fiction originally started as an expression of my eclectic interests, but it turns out that science has had a significant influence on the imaginations of authors, and through them society as a whole!  I will try and highlight more or these connections as the blog continues.

I will hopefully be importing my old archives from in the near future; in the meantime, you can see them at this link.

For an explanation about the title of the blog, which is also a Robert E. Howard story, see the ‘about’ page.

4 responses so far

The Discovery Place does optics!

Jul 29 2010 Published by under Optics, Personal

This post involves a little bit of boasting!  For the past month, the Discovery Place science museum in Charlotte has been displaying a small interactive optics exhibit targeted at 8-14 year-olds as part of their "Explore More Stuff" series.  The kicker is that I played a small part in the exhibit, suggesting an idea for one of the interactive "stations"!

The museum contacted our department a couple of months ago and a few faculty, including me, went to brainstorm with their staff for their exhibit.  They did a great job quickly turning the ideas that came out of the session into kid-resistant displays.  The exhibit gets phased out next week, but I stopped downtown this week to take a few quick pics!

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Skullsinthestars featured in the local paper!

Jul 19 2010 Published by under Personal

This is nice -- my blog work has been featured in my local newspaper, The Charlotte Observer!  It's a relatively short piece, and in hindsight I wish I had said things a bit differently, but it's always nice to get some recognition from the news.

10 responses so far

Is there anybody... out there?

Jul 06 2010 Published by under Personal

Over the past week, a lot of blogs have revived a venerable scienceblog tradition: inviting those who "lurk" on the blog (read without posting) to de-lurk and say "hi"!  I've never tried to do that, but it seemed like a nice idea to fill some time while I'm working on my next science-y post.

I'd love to hear from you!  Feel free to post a comment saying a little about yourself, how you found yourself at this blog, and what sort of topics interest you.  Heck, even if you've posted comments somewhat regularly here, you should also feel welcome to say hello!

(Title of post comes from here, if you're wondering.)

49 responses so far

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