Quick quote

"Do you know what makes the Ruby more valuable than the Diamond? ...Impurities."

Photography Idea

This would require an installation.

Go to some public place, like a concert hall, but just outside it (the lobby, say). Set up a series of strongly-colored flash bulbs overhead.

After a performance (or just before), when the lobby is crowded, trigger the flashes and take a picture, from above. ...The point would be to catch the crowd unawares, in stark colors, in an interesting room.

If you're feeling particularly bold, just before taking the picture, shout at the top of your lungs so that most people will be looking at the camera.

Idea inspired by this shot.

UC Davis

If I were back in California, it wouldn't be in the North. ...Errr... at least, I don't think so. I've been to SF and Silicon Valley, and didn't like either. ...Didn't hate it, but... didn't like it. Just didn't click. That's surprising, given that I'm a geek. [shrug] There's no accounting for biochemistry, as it were. It just doesn't do it for me.

That said, I'm going to look at UC Davis now. Again: this is mostly for fun (and to know more about colleges).

Pretty campus (errr... virtually). Diverse styles, most of them very cool.

It has a music program that isn't too bad (I think).

Linguistics program is lame. Not even really linguistics, except for some intro courses.

Good size art department, but nothing digital. Stikes me, for whatever reason, as... errr... "easy". There's nothing overtly competitive about it. ...I like that idea, but at the same time, worry that it means you're not being "pushed".

Huge microbiology department. Most labs seem to focus on macromolecule structure and genetics... well, it is microbio, not biochem. ; ) Still seems kinda cool. I wouldn't do it, though. : ) Lots of x-ray crystallography going on here.

CS is another big department, yet I'm underwhelmed. None of the focuses are up my alley.

Overall: nice place to visit, but wouldn't want to school there. : D

University of Rhode Island

Mediocre campus.

Decent art program.

Neat biodiversity focus, but small faculty compared to other schools. Of course, being on the ocean, it's mainly a marine biology place.

Cell/Molecular Bio department is better. One professor is studying signal transduction... make that two. The rest are either botanists or microbiologists.

Robust music department.

Small CS department (which mingles with statistics, besides). Lame website (never a good sign). The research there doesn't intrigue me: the 3D program is, frankly, lame.

...Overall: meh. If I were in the area, I would much rather be at U-Mass. If I were stuck here, I'd want to be in the art program.


I'm really smitten by the University of Oregon. Not only is it well-situated in a state having the highest concentration of schools I'm interested in (CA being so much bigger, it doesn't make up for the quantitative lead), but it also has an array of programs that I'm really drawn to.

Interestingly, it's $17,445 per year for non-residents, compared to $5,610 for residents. That's an enormous delta.

Their art department has a huge selection of digital art courses (more, including a digital art MFA), with a smattering of photography and sculpture. ...I totally want to do this stuff. : )

The CS program seems relatively weak... but it's hard to say with only three pages of marketing spiel to go on... oh, wait, I found the page. Okay, so it's better than the spiel made it out to be. ; ) The focus I'm most interested in from their list is the languages one. I haven't actually seen a program like that before. (Granted, I haven't yet looked too hard.) They've also got a few projects on eye-automation, which is cool (but I probably wouldn't do well at).

They've got a strong music program, too. ...Mind you, I wouldn't dare major in music: too much work. But I dread the idea of being on a campus without a music program. It's part of the University experience, for me. A big part.

They've also got the kick-assiest linguistics homepage ever. Their focuses include descriptive linguistics, which totally appeals to me (like, big time--I wish U-Mass had that focus, but they were more theoretical), and cognition (which is a nice tie to CS). The department is about half the size I'm used to, but that suits me fine.

"Some of the most active areas of research at the University of Oregon are in the fields of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology." That suits me just fine. That's where research should be most active. ; ) Check this out:

The research in the Barkan laboratory focuses on two areas: protein-facilitated RNA catalysis, and the molecular cross-talk between the nuclear and chloroplast genomes. The two projects are synergistic, in that the chloroplast serves as a useful model system for the genetic analysis of catalytic ribonucleoproteins, and the control of catalytic plastid RNAs by nucleus-encoded proteins provides a molecular link between the nucleus and plastid. Both projects are grounded in genetic screens that identify nuclear genes that influence chloroplast gene expression.
...Doesn't that just make you want to go open a biology book?!? I wanna talk like that! : D And the clincher:

Hormones and other excreted signaling factors regulate growth, differentiation and survival of cells, and ultimately control, the development, metabolism and behavior of higher organisms. We are interested in the cellular actions of steroid and thyroid hormones. These hormones are involved in the cause or treatment of a wide range of diseases including arthritis, artheriosclerosis, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancers.

That is exactly what I want to be studying. ...Not to mention, that Professor is cute. : )
In short, UO is about as close to a U-Mass as I've yet found... and the fact that it's in the Pacific Northwest makes it more appealing than U-Mass, anyway.

I'd love to end up here. I'm actually tempted to stop looking, I'm so satisfied with this school... (But will that stop me? Heh...)

UNC Chapel Hill

Here's another exception: UNC. I don't like the South. Frankly, I would just as well consider it another country. So the fact that I could bend my rules a little to study there must mean an exemplary program, and I think UNC qualifies. Amazingly cheap, even for out-of-staters, at something like $10k per year. Despite that, it's got an attractive campus as well as some good programs. ...At least, that's what I thought. :) Part of the reason I'm doing this is to learn more, and as I look more deeply into UNC, I'm not sure there's really a compelling reason to break the no-South rule...

They seem to have a decent art program. 11 faculty and affiliations with other local schools... the usual focuses are available. But doesn't seem to be worth writing home about.

They don't have a Biochemistry program, per se, but they do have a Chemistry department with a focus on biochem. Within that program, the emphases seem to be on protein synthesis, genetics, and disease. Meh. (I'm really interested in signal transduction and endocrinology.)

They do have what appears to be a rather large, diverse biology department... with some neat programs within it. I could be happy with that, I'm sure.

But, again, I doubt it's worth the location. :)


UNM has an "Electronic Arts" program that I would be interested in moreso than their (relatively weak) CS degree. I've met some of the professors over there in CS, and haven't been exactly overwhelmed. However, they do exist, and I think I could add a lot to the program, were I to help them out. ;)

On the other hand, UNM is fairly well-known (I'm told) for their BFA/MFA program, so I could "leverage" (shudder: I hate that word) that fact, major in Art, and just do a lot of computer work associated with it. (It seems the MFA in photography is #2 as of 2008.)

They have a really big bio department... lots of topics covered, some of them surprising for the middle of the high desert. Only 10 faculty in the Organic Chemistry realm... but that's not horrible. : )

UNM's a neat campus, and I really like the part of Albuquerque it's nestled in (Nobb Hill)... I eat there all the time. ; )


Let's move to another exception: New Mexico State University. They're small. They barely have the curricula I'm looking for. For whatever reason, some website I was using to help my search listed them as a top-50 Computer Science school. I'm not sure I buy it... anyone here in Albuquerque who's into CS has never mentioned it to me. (Though, that said, they usually tout TVI, a community college, instead. Blech.)

The advantage to this school is, clearly, it's proximity. It's 3 hours from my house.

CS has 13 full-time faculty members, about 280 undergraduate majors, and 95 graduate students, including 25 doctoral candidates. ...That's a decent size. They're actually working on some pretty cool projects there, including graphics, music, linguistics, robot control, web programming, and programs for teaching: each of these is a focus I would consider.

I may very well end up doing graduate work here. I think I'd enjoy it...

They do have an art department, including drawing, photography, and sculpture (which are three of the four areas I would consider). 15 faculty. Since I'm not looking to major in art (more like a minor), I'm comfortable that I'm not blown away by what I've found there.

They also have a lofty-goaled biochem department with a good number of faculty and courses... another minor area to sink my teeth into.

I like it. I'm surprisingly impressed by NMSU, especially given that it's right next door.

On the downside, I've never visited, and the scant pictures I've seen of the place are decidedly unimpressive (errr... aside from the natural beauty of NM itself, but I just step outside to get that).

List of Universities

Here's the rest of the list (no particular order):

(Bolded items are websites I've researched already, followed by a five-star rating.)

If I'm correct, that's, geographically:
  1. California - 9
  2. Oregon - 5
  3. Colorado, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Washington - 3
  4. Hawai'i, New York, and New Mexico - 2
  5. (Everything else) - 1

Naropa University

At this point, I do not believe there are any people reading this weblog (certainly not regularly), so I'm going to proceed as if this were truly a personal journal.

I've decided to "learn" about more Universities. I've long claimed I'm a "University guy", but I'm not walking that particular talk. It's time to change that. So, I'm going to post here about Universities.

I've spent the last day or two building a list of Universities I would personally consider. The criteria are HIGHLY subjective. It must not be:

  • in any major city, unless I would consider living there permanently. (ie: No Chicago, NYC, Boston, etc...) The point here is that I LOVE campuses. I couldn't be happy at, say, MIT.
  • religious... errr... except one: keep reading.
  • in the South. ...Except in one case that I couldn't ignore.
  • in a few other select states that I wouldn't feel comfortable in (ex: Dakotas, Ohio, Utah, Wyoming, etc...)
  • private, unless it's REALLY REALLY fantastic (CalTech, Stanford).
  • Ivy League. Elitist snobs. (Okay, Stanford folk are snobs, but...)
  • a school that gives me a bad vibe. Yup, totally subjective.
  • "just" a college. I'm all about Universities, not just colleges... graduate studies are what fuel me most.
  • small. I'm only considering enrollment of 10,000 undergrads or more. (Yes, I should have gone by grad students, but that info is harder to get.) There are a few exceptions to this.
  • a program without these three majors (which I'm interested in, in this order):
  1. Computer Science (specifically allowing a focus on software engineering).
  2. Fine Art.
  3. Biochemistry, or the combination of Biology and Chemistry.
That said, I came up with a list of almost 40 universities. I won't list them here, now. Rather, I will talk about them one by one to the point where I'm comfortable knowing what I know about them.

THAT said, the first one I'll examine is Naropa University. It's in Boulder, CO, and it's the only "religious" university on my list. Tuition seems to run just over $20k per year including board, so it's definitely on the expensive end of the scale, but there are almost 200 faculty and only something like 400 students. :) They claim their focus is on "contemplative education", and it appears they offer (mandate?) a set of meditative practices.

This is one of the huge exceptions to my criteria, but I just thought it was so cool, I wanted to know at least a few things about it.

There are no real science programs, and the only thing they offer that would interest me personally is Visual Arts. The website was impressive. They also have a program called "Peace Studies", which is an interesting concept.

I wouldn't actually consider going here, so I don't care to know much more than this. :) I just wanted it in my repertoire so I could mention it to other people (I know a fair number of people who would find it interesting)...

He's Insane

Okay, so I just made the post about favourite albums... and then my wife bought me Year Zero, NIN's new CD.

I had mixed feelings about The Fragile when I first heard it (It's now in my top-5), and With Teeth took me a solid five forced listens before I finally fell in love with it.

Not so with Year Zero. Love at first sight.

People are calling this Reznor's Magnum Opus... I agree. Not only does the music kick ass, but he's gone one up in the way he's delivered it. Buy the CD and you'll notice a piece of paper stuck to the back reading "USBM WARNING: Consuming or spreading this material may be deemed subversive by the United States Bureau Of Morality." Of course, there is no such entity, but when you go searching for such a thing on the internet...

...Well, I won't spoil it for you. But let me say, it reminds me heavily of The Matrix, where Neo is using the web to search for Morpheus.

It doesn't stop with the Internet. Reznor has gone completely Davinci Code with this one. Open the CD and it's a solid black CD with a spot of text on the bottom reading "Year Zero". Put it in your player for a track and take it out... it's a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT COVER! (Triggered, I assume, by heat.) I was blown away when I first noticed that. Look around and you'll find strange bolded letters here and there... collect them, rearrange them... well, you get the point.

He's turned it into an experience.

Not to mention, there's some kick-ass anti-establishment messages in the lyrics. Examples:

"I push the button and elected him to office, and / He pushed the button and dropped the bombs. / You push the button and a watch it on the television. / Those mother-fuckers didn't last too long."

"I've traded in my god for this one, and he spells his name with a Capitol G"