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Well. It’s been an interesting two weeks. I’ve been down here in Oak Ridge Tennessee for the last two weeks working on the Cray systems here at Oak Ridge National Labs. I’ve been watching over the shoulders of the local support folks as they maintained the systems here at ORNL.  Jaguar is an XT4 similar to what I’ll be working with in Scotland. Phoenix is a Cray X1, which I won’t have overseas, but a really neat toy in itself.

ORNL is an interesting place to work. The office is between three different nuclear reactors, that I know of. The Spallation Neutron Source, the Graphite Enrichment Reactor, and the High Flux Isotope Reactor. People who work here full time have to wear dosometers to work every day. Good thing I’m done having children. (-: It’s really strange working at a place that was so instrumental in the Manhattan Project and the creation of the first Atomic Weapons. 

I’ll be flying back to Montana on Saturday the 27th o f October. I’ll spend a week with the family then it’s off to Reno for SuperComputing 07 for 3 days, then back to Montana again for a bit.

Supposedly my Work Visa application will be submitted again today and in 3-6 weeks if all goes well I’ll be able to submit for my entrance visa. Fingers crossed. Let’s see. Oct 26 plus 3 to 6 weeks means I could, in theory, get my Work Visa between 16 November and 7 December. Then it’s another week or so at least for the Entrance Visa process. Okay, so, it’s looking like 26 November at the very earliest, with a more pessimistic view of 14 December before all the paper work is taken care of.


String Ducky! The winner of Science in under 2 minutes video contest.

Well, I made it down to Nashville in time to hit the drag strip on Friday night. Unknown to me, Darrin had borrowed a Honda CBR600rr rice rocket from a buddy for me to ride for the weekend. It’s almost the exact same bike as D’s except it’s been lowered some. They both have Power commander chips, performance pipes, etc etc..

Well, I get to Darrin’s at about 11pm and we grab some gear, hop on the biks and head for the drag strip. This is the first time I’ve been on a bike since I sold my R6 two years ago. With the bike being lowered it handled nothing like my R6, the balance was way off from what I was used to, but I started to get the feel for it by the time we hit the track.

The track was a 1/8th mile drag strip with timers, lights, traps, the whole nine yards. We roll up and we’re the only bikes there that night. We watch the cars for a bit then gear up again, (helmet, gloves, armored jacket, and jeans. )  One nice thing was that we didn’t have to wait in line since we’re so quick the just put us next whenever we lined up.

Here’s what it was like.

We rolled up to the line on almost identical black honda’s, D on the left, me on the right. The track monitor flashes his head lights and we roll up to the starting point, inching forward til the top light lights, then a hair more for the second light. Hearts pounding in my chest. I bring the RPM’s up to about 6k and let the clutch out just enough for it to start to grab. D hits the second light and suddenly the lights start going. I roll back on the throttle and start feathering the clutch to accelerate and keep the rpms up. My feet leave the ground and I lean forward as the front of the bike starts to rise. I’m off the starter box and clutch is all the way out. Front wheel is about a foot off the ground as the rpms climb through 10k. Ding, first second is gone.

Somehow my feet are on the pegs and I’m crouched down with my wheight forward on the tank. Bikes starting to sound like an aircraft engine as the rpms climb towards 15k. Suddenly I catch the redline light and drop 1/4 throttle, feather the clutch and hit second gear just as I felt the bike stutter from the rev limiter, good shift! Front wheel had dropped back to the ground during the shift, but as the rpm’s scream back up and the front wheel comes up also, I twist the throttle in time to the front wheel to keep it from coming up to high to quick, I don’t think about this, I just do it. Barrier on my right seems to be getting close, not sure when that happened, I lean a little left and the bike responds by changing my line down the track. Things are looking good, I catch D on my left, a little ahead but I’m gaining, must have had a better launch. RPM’s are climbing to the moon again, I catch the shift light just as I feel the bike stutter from the rev limiter hitting at 15 1/2 thousand rpms. I grab the clutch, twitch the throttle and hit third, front wheel is back on the ground again, didn’t even feel it drop this time. I bury the throttle and tuck down tight just as I realize, boom, I’m past the lights and the race is over. I back down and start easing on the brakes. Not sure of total speed, but I’m at 110 when I back off the throttle.

My hearts pounding in my chest, my visor is  fogged so bad I can barely see. I’m breathing like I ran the 1/8th mile and I can’t get the grin off my face for nothin! I look over at D, we we’re so close we have no idea who won and don’t really care. We give each other a thumbs up, all good, get our speed down into the normal range again, turn and hit the side alley back towards the starting area. Do a couple of wheelies enroute for grins. It’s gonna be a good night.

We did about 12 runs that night. I won about half and D won about half. It was perfect. His best time before the night was 7.65 seconds to run 1/8 from a dead stop. That night, we both ran 7.50 seconds on different runs. It was some of the most fun I’ve had in years. My heart still races just thinking about it. 

Well, I’m currently in Mendota Heights Minnesota. I’ll be here til Friday before flying off to Tennessee for two weeks. 

 So, what have I done here since Sunday? Well, not much. I did spend a few hours in the Mall Of America on Sunday. It’s huge. 4 Stories of Mall surrounding an amusement park. Pretty wild. One sad thing to note about the  mall. There is only one book store in amongst the hundreds of other stores. One, a Barnes and Nobles on the first floor near the East entrance. I had just about given up when I found it.

The only other exciting thing I’ve done while here was to visit the Minnesota Music Cafe on Monday night for their Open Mic Blues Night. There were some very talented blues players there. Very talented. Music starts at 9:30 and runs to about 2am. I’m old, I only stuck it out till about 11pm. It was well worth getting out for the night and enjoying the music.

The one thing I found at the book store on Sunday was a book called “The Golden Ratio. The story of PHI, the worlds most astonishing number“. Ya, I know, I need a life.  It is an interesting read though, and not a whole lot else to do while living in a hotel. It was either that or the new book by Brian Greene called “The Fabric of the Cosmos“. I’ve read his “The Elegant Universe” and it was a very good book. Which was why I almost put the Golden Ratio back. I finally just decided to go with something a touch different. I haven’t delved into mathematics in a long time, and figured, what the heck. By the way, if anyone has any interest at all in the quantum world up to how the universe works and isn’t a total nerd, well, I would definitely recommend the books by Brian Greene, he has the ability to explain the very complicated in a fairly simple manner. I was very impressed by The Elegant Universe.

The first 10 digits of PHI are 1.6180339887 and yes, I’m a nerd, I pulled that out of my head without looking it up. Again, I need a life. (-:

Well, I found the job posting for the HECToR position on the site. Now it’s just a matter of waiting to see if someone qualified takes my job. Weeeeeee…

Here’s what it looks like.

Job Description:

Responsibilities: The position is to provide Systems Hardware and Software support as part of a team to a major new Cray customer located near Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. The successful candidate will be employed by Cray UK Ltd. and must be willing to relocate to the Edinburgh area with easy access to the site and able to meet response time commitments. This position will require both remote and on-site responses to calls for assistance and service. It is a requirement that the successful candidate will be willing to participate in an on-call rota on a 7×24 basis. The Cray supercomputer will be under an initial contract for 4 years with a possible extension for a further 2 years.

Requirements: The candidate will be educated to degree level in a computer science, a related discipline, or have a minimum of 5 years of relevant IT experience, ideally in an area related to High Performance Computing (HPC). In-depth knowledge of Linux, Unix, file systems and networking is mandatory. An understanding of the specific needs of supercomputing users will be very helpful.

Personal Attributes: The successful candidate will be well organised, take an analytical approach to problems and will be fully committed to drive problems through to their conclusion. He or she needs to be a good team player and be committed to investigate and resolve complex problems as part of a team.

The successful candidate will possess good communication skills, both verbal and written, and the ability to stay calm and professional under pressure while working to strict deadlines.

The salary range for this position is 40k-45k GBP. Applications will be accepted through October 25, 2007. Cray UK Ltd. is located at 2 Brewery Court, High Street, Theale, Reading.

Well, we found a small house in Butte that we could rent on a month to month basis and moved in over the weekend. I finally got internet access this morning.  Living in an interenet free zone sucks. I would hit Perkins Restaurant in the mornings for coffee and access to their wireless, then I would help Mark on the alcove for the wood stove in the evenings and use their wireless to check my emails.  It’s been interesting.

 The house we found is a turn of the century (1900) place that’s seen better days. It’s 4 foot from a 4 lane busy road, but has a decent back yard. It’s 3 bedrooms and 1 bath. The girls are all sleeping in the upstairs and pretty much all have their own space, which is really good.  The heat for the place comes from a 1916 coal burning furnace in the basement that has been converted to gas. The coal chute is still there, just filled with insulation. It’s all convection heat, no blowers. I opened the front of the furnace and at some point gas burners were placed within the furnace. It’s different, but it works okay.  I have some pictures of it I’ll try to put up later.

I’m flying off again on Sunday for Mendota Heights Minnesota for a week and then I’m headed for Oak Ridge Tennessee for another two weeks. 

We’re looking at either Christmas break, or maybe even Spring break before Roberta and the girls move over to Scotland. We’re playing it by ear at this point.

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October 2007
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