Tough decisions.

I’ve applied to the University of Texas, and also to Texas A&M. At A&M I have an opportunity to study Atmospheric Sciences for a PhD. The good news is that I could start in January and the degree would not take very long. On the other hand I could study Geophysics at UT. I’ve been considering that longer however, and I really think I would enjoy that more. Both would be very appealing however with travel and science involved. At UT I couldn’t start until August though and the degree would most likely take a good bit longer, both of which prolong my graduation and future career. I’m not afraid of the time, and I’m really leaning toward UT because it is what I originally wanted (to study that is) and it’s in Austin where my parents and Aaron all live.

I’m on the proverbial fence as it is. Usually I am impulsive and take whatever good opportunity comes first. That makes this all the worse. If I decide to go to UT I’ll have to turn down A&M next month and hope for acceptance (which looks very promising) in March or April at UT. You know the old bird in a hand is better than two in the bush saying. I’ll turn down a good opportunity without knowing if I have another. Kinda scary. As it is, the UT ap is complete and I still haven’t had my GRE scores sent to A&M yet. I meant to do that the last two days, but when I call the hold lasts longer than I can wait. So I can’t technically be considered to A&M yet – kind of a cheap way out of making a decision.

It is odd though. I’m not superstitious, but there have been some odd “signs” let’s call them recently. Today I learned that a good friend of mine would be moving to A&M to teach, and just the other day I was watching some show that said that school was the highest rated for student happiness I believe. Something else that weighs on my mind is that a couple weeks ago I had a dream, and I don’t remember what the dream was about, but at the end I kept repeating to myself for quite some time “If you want it bad enough it is worth waiting for”. It’s a very true statement on its own, but at this point in my life it may just be the right guidance I need. Normally I don’t even dream, and even more seldom do I remember what I dreamt.

Well, that’s a long enough post about nothing. Something will come to me.

Saturday night

On Saturday I ran out to see a friend from Highschool, Victor. His wife, Amy, and he live pretty close in Buda, Texas. They made fajitas for me – quite good, and we caught up on old times. Turns out she is pregnant and expecting in May. Other than that things haven’t changed for them since last time I was there well over a year ago. I told them a little bit about Germany, but mostly they were interested in television.

Another really cool thing is that I found something special at the grocery store when we went to pick up food for dinner: coca cola. What is special about coca cola you might ask? Well, it Mexican Coca Cola, and they use real sugar. It tastes much better, and best of all, I don’t have to drive to Mexico anymore to buy it! The bottle is really cool too, written in Spanish, it is a half liter and glass. And as everyone knows the best coca cola is made with sugar and comes in a glass bottle!!! πŸ˜€

Here it is πŸ˜€

On the way back from Victor’s I took advantage of the clear night to snap a couple photos of the Austin skyline from my road and also the moon again. Sorry no telescope shots this time, it was too low on the horizon.

Moon shot link

Skyline photo: you can click to enlarge

On the left is the UT Tower, lit up Orange at is custom when they win a football game. In the center is the state capital seen 90 degrees from the front face, and on the right is the downtown business district. You can walk from the Tower to downtown in less than 30 minutes.

Enjoy – That skyline photo was a little dangerous. The road I live on is slightly busy, and I had to stand in the middle, as evidenced by the photo, to get a good shot.

Full Moon tonight.

It’s the largest full moon of the year, and the weather is perfect for observing. I didn’t plan on it, but since the moon won’t be this big and full for quite some time, I took a few quick shots with my tripod and camera before putting the lens up to the telescope. I think they turned out pretty good.

Of course you can click them all for larger photos. (I should mention that they are upside down due to the telescope mirror)

And one I took last month with clouds and everything. This one was a little more tricky to take but I got it.

More interviews part II

Wish me luck. Tomorrow I hope to meet the professor with whom I want to work for the next 4-5 years. I’m actually meeting many professors, so the chances are good. What I’m looking for is someone doing current research, with funding, and doing things I’m interested in. I’m not too picky, but I do want to get out in a quick manner, so the current research is important. Professors at A&M do things I’m interested, but they cannot promise me research any time soon, so that’s kind of out.

I hope UT goes better. First off they have a much larger department, so the opportunities are better. Plus it is a more widely known school and has a better reputation. That is only extra. Actually, they are really big, but I think things will work out in a PhD program since the main stuff is not done on campus and I will never have classes with hundreds of people, probably not even tens of people.

Ok, so tomorrow will help me decide the next 5 years of my life and then the rest after that. Big day. Am I nervous? Not at all.

Everything went well.

I won’t be accepted for the spring, but the graduate advisor made it sound like I had a good chance of being accepted for the Fall. Of course that’s a year away. I really like their program, and it is nationally recognized.

This brings into question whether I would prefer to get started earlier and most likely graduate much earlier in Atmospheric Sciences, or start a little later and study longer in Geophysics. I’m leaning towards Geophysics, but both are probably good career moves.

In the mean time I’m going to work for Radio Shack and Lowes, and next semester I’d like to teach at a community college or high school. Probably the community college. This will be good experience for when I apply to be a professor down the road. They like in classroom experience.

I have appointments to meet with geophysicists on Monday. We’ll talk about what they do and if I find one interesting I’ll make sure to woo that person. I’d like to hit the ground running upon entering grad school rather than stand back for a year like many people do. Of course that means I’ll be studying geology in the next few months. I should like that. Things are pretty good right now. I just need to get it all into motion. Thankfully I have some timeoff before work starts (Radio Shack starts today but it’s only part time) to do all the meetings I need and get things in order. Wish me luck.

More interviews

I’m going up to UT today to talk about geophysics again. This should be good; I’ll post how that went this afternoon maybe.

After going to the A&M geophysics department I was a little disappointed. The chances were good that I would get in, but they didn’t have any professors working on what I might be interested in that also had current projects. That’s the important thing, since I have to have a project to graduate. The Atmospheric guys did however, and that is promising. I hope UT has something for me to consider, and that I’m not too late. The deadline has already passed, but some schools make exceptions.

How did my interview go?

I’ve had a couple people ask me, so I thought I’d tell what happened.

Originally I went to ATM to talk about geophysics, a field I’m interested in and have been thinking about for some time. My professor from St. Louis contacted a friend of his there to let him know I was coming. That professor, Dr. North, is in the same ‘college’ as geophysics, and that college is Earth Sciences along with Oceanography and something else. He is in Atmospheric Science. Dr. North arranged for me to meet several people in his field to discuss working with them. The people I met then worked mostly with modelling and dare I say it, climate change. I wasn’t so interested in that however; I’ve always been the kind of guy that would rather go out in the field and take data myself, rather than use someone else’s data and someone else’s computer programs.
Well, the meeting went well, and I did get to see the laboratory of one professor that was doing field work and talk to a couple students about what they are doing. Afterwards Dr. North showed me over to the Geophysics/Geology department and introduced my to the head there. A nice guy by the name of Andy Kronenberg, which in German means Crown Mountain. I guess it’s fitting that he works in Geology with that last name. We got there late on Friday afternoon, so there wasn’t time to meet any other professors, but Dr. Kronenberg showed me the names of some professors I might be interested in talking to and working with. I’ve since then emailed them talk. We of course also talked about their program, like I had done at Atmospheric.

Several things stood out. First, the geology department is much larger. They have about 4 times the faculty and students that Atmospheric has. Another thing is that that goes in to real life too; the geologic world is much larger in general with more jobs and possibilities. I think they pay more in the long run too – but that is if you factor in Oil related jobs. The atmospheric guys pay their students more; and I’m not sure why that is, but they did mention that employment is not that hard to find after graduating. In Physics it can be a problem finding work after graduation, and most people need several years to find a permanent position. These two fields don’t have that problem, and that is one reason I’ve considered moving away from strict physics.

The good news is that if I want it, there is an opening for the spring. After talking to the geology professor, I went back to Atmospheric department to talk to the one professor of who’s lab I had visited. He was away earlier, but this time he had plenty of time to talk to me, and we talked for over an hour about what he does. He measures chemicals in the air, more specifically pollutants. He goes on-site and setups instruments that take readings for long periods of time or does shorter measurements as he flies over a site and takes the air to measure right then. What he is doing sounds pretty interesting to me. And the field aspect is pretty appealing not to mention the travel associated.

So for now, I’m applying to both programs, and waiting to hear more from the geology professors. Also, I’ll continue looking at other schools and employment opportunities so that when the time comes to decide I will have more options and can make the decision that seems best for me. At this point I’m going to have to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life, because I’m changing fields and have a choice in which, plus the call to go to work is also there with some possibilities – even though I have heard very little from the places to where I have applied. I put in about 10 more applications yesterday, so wish me luck on that. πŸ˜€