#tbt DeSmet 2015

Two years ago, this week, Kelly and I visited DeSmet, SD, one of the homes of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

We visited the DeSmet cemetery, which included “Pa” Ingalls’ grave.

We saw wonderful views of the titular prairie.

We visited one of the schools where Laura taught.

We saw a re-enactment of one of the books

Perhaps most memorably, we met an incredibly cute(and friendly) litter of kittens!


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Watch groundbreaking of Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility live

I am looking forward to attending this in person!

On Friday, July 21, a new era of physics in the United States will officially begin. The groundbreaking ceremony for the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility will streamed live.

Source: Watch groundbreaking of Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility live

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Gratitude (July 11 – July 17)

  1. New shoelaces to replace my fraying old ones.
  2. Participating in the Downtown Master Plan open house (July 11)
  3. Community meal with friends
  4. Playing trains with the daughter of the community meal hosts
  5. Watching videos with her
  6. Physics lunch club at Pizza Ranch (July 12)
  7. Good discussion with the organizers at the MPO transportation open house
  8. Trimming my beard
  9. Creating a digital picture frame with electronics we already had around the house.
  10. Working on my Entertainment PC
  11. Taking the day off
  12. Watching Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which was far better than I expected and surprisingly moving
  13. Good discussion at the Wobbly Table
  14. A new member at the Wobbly Table
  15. Good meeting with University Relations about the upcoming groundbreaking at the Sanford Underground Research Facility
  16. Testing a card game with my wife
  17. Successfully testing the Physics Dept. telescope on a 12V battery
  18. Buying cinder blocks from Menard’s
  19. A well-timed call with my wife the kept me from unnecessarily trying to bring home 2 tons of cinderblocks.
  20. The physical strength to move and place the cinderblocks I did need
  21. Menard’s rain barrel kit
  22. Setting up the first phase of our new rain barrel system
  23. Getting laundry put away
  24. Decluttering our living room
  25. Setting up the first experiment for our upcoming advanced lab class
  26. Organizing and rediscovering photographs from earlier in my life
  27. Beautiful concert (part of the Rushmore Music Festival) at the Cathedral
  28. Good discussion at The Well about time and values
  29. Making several important phone calls this morning (July 17).
  30. A wound on my hand seems to be healing well
  31. Quick medical appointment to look at the wound
  32. Watching my wife’s team win their first softball playoff game of this year’s tournament
  33. Buying water and ice for the team for their possibly long series of playoff games tonight
  34. The campus electrician showing me how to shut of some lights to make stargazing easier for the BHAS outreach event for the SDSM&T GenCyber camp.
  35. Taking the team picture
  36. Exploring the timer feature on the audio Bible on my phone
  37. Lunch club at Pauly’s
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Gratitude (July 5 – July 11)

  1. Our electrician removed unneeded cables from our house
  2. Important conversation with a colleague
  3. Having a job flexible enough for me to attend the town hall meeting by our lone Congressional representative Kristi Noem
  4. Enough interest to pack the town hall with at least 120 people (my estimate)
  5. The 4-H students who were at the town hall
  6. The audience was more than willing to express disagreement with Noem and each other
  7. Staring to de-clutter our living room
  8. Bonus frequent flyer miles from a new credit card
  9. My first yoga class at Sol Yoga, and I was the only student!
  10. The graduate student who helped me teach people about radioactivity in everyday objects at Neutrino Day
  11. All of the people who attended Neutrino Day.
  12. Great support from University Relations for our booth at Neutrino Day
  13. Seeing friends from church at Neutrino Day
  14. Driving from Neutrino Day to home, the library, my office, and the airport in time for our flight to MSP.
  15. My wife finishing the packing while I was at Neutrino Day.
  16. Safe, punctual flight to MSP.
  17. Good dinner at the airport
  18. Shuttle van to Eau Claire
  19. Our hotel is next door to the shuttle drop off location
  20. 24-our convenience store across the street from our hotel
  21. Visiting my grandmother
  22. Good weather for our time in Wisconsin
  23. Visiting, eating, and catching up with my parents, aunt, and sister around a backyard fire in Wisconsin
  24. Petting Willow, the office cat at the Chippewa Valley Airport Service Eau Claire location.
  25. Beautiful lightning on the ride back to the Twin Cities
  26. Safe flight and drive home.
  27. Starting to set up the advanced lab class I will be teaching in the fall.
  28. Good conversation and food at community meal
  29. Looking at pictures and toy trains with the daughter of our of our friends
  30. Attending an open house about the Downtown Master Plan for Rapid City
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Gratitude (June 28 – July 4)

  1. Rain for our garden (June 28)
  2. Watching Red Green with my wife
  3. Learning more about how to power the department telescope without an electrical outlet
  4. July 3 and 4 off from work
  5. Deciding on a cloud backup for our computers
  6. My wife’s talent for arranging decor
  7. Putting decorations on walls that have been sitting in boxes for nearly four years
  8. Printing and forming two of my best photographs from the past year
  9. Good deal on frames
  10. Meeting new colleagues in the Faculty Lounge
  11. Watching fireworks from a hill near our house on July 4
  12. Being more aware of the reasons why some Americans are reluctant to celebrate Independence Day.
  13. Good lunch at La Costa after our Sunday brunch plans didn’t work out
  14. Ice cream sale at Safeway
  15. Bringing snacks to The Well
  16. Finding digital photograph I thought I had lost
  17. My wife installing new towel bars and clothes hooks in the upstairs bathroom
  18. Getting the bathroom clean after the installation
  19. Moving a pile of sticks to a less obtrusive place in our backyard.
  20. Removing a clog from our garage gutters.
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Every dollar matched until midnight July 4

Whether we celebrate Independence Day proudly, think we have nothing to celebrate, or celebrate it as “Victory over Custer Day,” I hope we can all agree that the opportunity to bring freedom and justice to those who need it is a great way to celebrate today.

Give before midnight on July 4 to double your impact
To celebrate our nation’s independence, the Beachbody Foundation has offered to match up to $100,000 of donations to International Justice Mission through midnight on July 4.

Send freedom to children and families trapped in slavery this Independence Day and change their lives forever.

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Gratitude (June 17 – 27)

  1. Skype conversation with a good friend (June 26)
  2. Preparing for the next step in commissioning of our radon monitor
  3. Watching my wife’s team play (and win one game) in the church softball league
  4. The opportunity to “keep the book” for our team
  5. Bringing snacks for our church
  6. Catching up with our friends at church
  7. Buying a needed supply for a dish my wife is making
  8. Getting a few treats while shopping.
  9. Shopping at the Farmers’ market new location (June 25)
  10. Kettle corn
  11. Grilling out for the first time this summer
  12. Conversation with friends over grilled dinner
  13. Safe drive to and from The Badlands
  14. Mostly clear and beautifully dark skies for the Badlands Astronomy Festival
  15. Seeing Saturn and Jupiter through large amateur telescopes, especially the Cassini Division in Saturn’s ring
  16. Two bright Iridium flares
  17. Seeing Pluto and 3C-273 (the first quasar identified, 2.4 billion light years away) through one of the telescopes at the festival
  18. All the beauty of the night sky, including the Milky Way
  19. Getting our upstairs bathroom cleaned
  20. Helping my wife get started on a project in the bathroom
  21. Learning how to cross the moat that was in front of my lab due to elevator shaft construction
  22. Food and friends at community meal
  23. The Clarinet Madness Concert
  24. Talking with friends after the concert
  25. More soil for our garden potatoes
  26. Enough fresh peas from our garden for my lunch vegetable for a few days.
  27. The moat has been filled in.
  28. Physics lunch club (June 27)
  29. My wife’s excellent lasagna at community meal
  30. Catching up with friends at community meal
  31. Sharing photos of our trip to Prague
  32. Complements on my beard
  33. Voting on upcoming NOvA meeting dates.
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Gratitude List: Wichita (June 11 – June 16)

We have and will be traveling a lot this summer. This list is about my trip to Wichita State University for a NOvA Collaboration Meeting. For the photographs at the Cosmosphere, I sometimes couldn’t get far enough away from the object to capture it all in the frame.

  1. Effective medicine for an illness I developed on this trip.
  2. Safe and punctual flights to Wichita
  3. My wife giving me rides to and from the airport in Rapid City
  4. Rides to and from the airport in Wichita
  5. My former boss giving a very nice performance on the saxophone at the collaboration dinner.
  6. Good food, drinks, and conversation at the dinner
  7. Fascinating colloquium on antimatter and gravity after the collaboration meeting
  8. My student was able to make valuable connections at the meeting
  9. Safe drive to the Cosmosphere, where I saw…
  10. … the Apollo 13 command module
  11. … a restored V-2 rocket
  12. … a restored V-1 rocket
  13. … Sergei Korolev and Wernher von Braun’s slide rules
  14. … a genuine Vostok space capsule
  15. … a window from the Space Shuttle Columbia (removed before the disaster)
  16. … a SR-71 Blackbird
  17. … a copy of Pravda reporting on Yuri Gagarin’s spaceflight. He was the first person in space.
  18. … Soviet and American space suits.
  19. … a full scale model of a rocket from the Gemini program.
  20. I also learned quite a bit about the V-1 and V-2 rockets.
  21. Despite a delayed flight out of Wichita, I had enough time to make my connection in Denver and arrived safely and on-time back home in Rapid City.
  22. My wife drove me home from the Rapid City airport.
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Gratitude List: Prague (May 31 – June 10)

The next few Gratitude Lists are arranged by locations rather than dates. We have and will be traveling a lot this summer. This list is about our trip to Prague, where I presented on DUNE at the 15th Conference on Flavor Physics and CP Violation.

  1. Ride to the airport on the first leg of our trip to Prague
  2. On time flight from RAP to MSP
  3. Our next scheduled flight from MSP to Amsterdam was cancelled due to an oil leak in an engine and other issues. I am not grateful for this; in fact, I am annoyed that Delta did not have better contingency plans in case of a problem like this. I am grateful that our original plans had us arriving in Prague two days before the conference and thus that after our delay, we still had time for some sightseeing and I could attend the entire conference. Also, I am grateful that…
  4. …we were rerouted through JFK and lost less than a day of our trip
  5. …Delta paid for a hotel room for the night we were stuck in Minneapolis
  6. …Delta gave us pizza while we were waiting for our hotel and re-booking information.
  7. …Delta gave me extra frequent flyer miles for my trouble
  8. Seeing an ad for my institution in the MSP airport
  9. Finally arriving in Prague! (June 3)

    The view from our hotel window.

  10. The excellent public transit (bus, train, tram) in Prague
  11. Beautiful moonrise from hour hotel window
  12. Good food and conversations at the conference dinner
  13. Musicians performing in the Old Town Square 
  14. Seeing the famous astronomical clock perform on the hour

    If I understand correctly, the clock is here indicating the time is just past 10 am (an hour off due to daylight saving time); the moon is waxing gibbous and in the constellation Libra, and the sun is in Gemini.

  15. We packed our umbrellas and thus were prepared for the rain
  16. Bubble performance in the Old Town Square
  17. We saw the Museum of Asian, African, and American Cultures, although the attire of Sitting Bull was not on display.
  18. Beautiful mural on the floor of the museum
  19. Tasty doughnuts!

    We both agreed that the mixed berry (left) was better.

  20. Beautiful views of the Vltava River, which flows through the center of Prague, and the ducks in it.
  21. Our accidental find of the museum of Bedřich Smetana, who is one of the great Czech composers. 
  22. A truly astonishing (in scale and quality) hotel buffet breakfast
  23. Crossing the famous Charles Bridge.
  24. The beautiful artwork and views on the bridge
  25. A crucifix with Hebrew writing
  26. Some of my colleagues at the conference were from Israel and thus could read the writing. They told us the individual words were correct, but they were out of order.
  27. Vertical flags outside of our hotel.
  28. Giant, delicious macarons 
  29. The panorama function of Google Photos Assistant
  30. Our tour of the Jewish Quarter, including the oldest synagogue in Prague 
  31. The The Church of Mother of God before Týn on the Old Town Square
  32. Seeing remnants of ancient stone buildings. I don’t remember the era.
  33. Beautiful view of the Prague Castle
  34. The narrowest alley in Prague
  35. A guided tour that was part of the conference registration
  36. A concert in the gorgeous Smetana Hall: “Gershwin & Jazz Mass.” The title made it sound light and fun, but it was musically perfect and more moving than many church services I have attended. We were truly astonished by this concert’s power and quality.
  37. Pretty flowers in a box outside of a hotel
  38. Lots of tasty traditional Czech food
  39. A relaxing cruise along the river
  40. Drinks and a fake fireplace after our guided tour
  41. Beautiful and peaceful Jewish Cemetery across the street from our hotel
  42. Our hotel room was clean, quiet, and comfortable.
  43. Delicious desserts overall
  44. Our flight from Prague to Amsterdam, while early, was on time and safe.
  45. We passed through passport control (out of the Schengen Area) quickly and easily
  46. The long flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis went smoothly. I even watched a movie.
  47. We passed through customs and back through security without incident
  48. We made use of the nap pads at MSP
  49. Our flight from MSP to Rapid City was short, punctual, and safe
  50. We made it home before midnight
  51. I was able to talk to many colleagues at the conference, including one I had not seen in many years
  52. My talk went well. It was within time, and the audience asked several questions.
  53. Since the majority of the speakers at the conference were from other subfields within particle physics, I learned a lot about those areas.
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Gratitude (May 24 – 30)

  1. Useful training on online student feedback forms
  2. My wife mailing gifts I bought on my trip to friends
  3. Setting up my rehearsal talk to prepare for an upcoming conference
  4. Useful phone meetings (May 25)
  5. An important meeting with a student
  6. A volunteer appreciation gathering for ICPC volunteers
  7. Multiple shirts as a reward for volunteering
  8. The tubing on our radon monitor is reassembled and ready for the next test
  9. Getting started on my presentation for the conference
  10. Mowing our lawns
  11. Watching funny videos with my wife
  12. Making scrambled eggs with fresh garden greens
  13. Buying a new weed whacker
  14. Notifying our credit union of our upcoming travel
  15. My rehearsal talk for the upcoming conference went well.
  16. Cleaning our house for community meal
  17. Good food at the meal
  18. Coloring and playing Lego with our friends’ daughter
  19. Showing her, at her request, around our garage
  20. Listening to a member of my former church on the radio over the internet.
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