December 20, 2008

Semester 1 (out of 10+) done

And I even got a B in the my intro class. You know, the one that I had to take the mid-term right after I got HIT BY A CAR. I never thought I would be this excited about a B. And I'm OK with this.
Most of the last week was spent grading/lab-ing/knitting/Christmas shopping/slacking. Yesterday, I spent 4+ hours grading the lecture final. Yes, it took 4+ hours with 8 people working on it. But there was free food. 
Flight to OK leaves in about 2.5 hours. So if you're there when I'm there, we should hang out. 


November 10, 2008

post-election commentary and some other stuff

How 'bout that election?! I can't say that I'm surprised. My reaction is not what I expected. I'm cautiously optimistic. That said, I'm really annoyed with people on both sides who are reacting so strongly to the results. The universe will not come to an end. Neither will the universe suddenly be full of fields of daisies and puppy dogs. I do worry that all the people who are so excited will end up disappointed and then be forever disillusioned and cynical, dropping out of the political process forever. It's been said that slavery is this country's original sin (OK, it was on a TV show, but I think it rings true. High-five for naming the show). I hope that in some small way we as a people are beginning to atone for centuries of oppression, racism, hatred, violence. 
Other exciting news, apparently our pipes are leaking such that the water is coming out of our downstairs neighbor's vent. Rock. It should be getting fixed today. 
I started physical therapy for my leg last week. I had no idea that PT could hurt this much. What a terrible idea. Yeah, I know, it has to hurt for it to heal. And I don't care. I would like magical instant pain-free-ness. The appointments are at 6:30am, so it forces me to get up earlier than usual. And I enjoy that. I wish I had enough discipline to do this all the time.
Lab stuff is going nicely. I'm still waiting for IACUC approval. *sigh* So I've been working on some smaller projects, mostly anatomy. Not terribly exciting but very necessary. The tissue processing technique that I'm using is from the late 1800s. Adventures in Victorian Biology--that's my new memoir title. And I'm going back to doing that now since my timer is about to go off.


October 26, 2008

weekend update

The time is coming for me to turn off my mail client and stop replying to student's emails. 14 today. Sheesh. Their 1st formal lab report for this class is due Tuesday. Of course the true panic will be setting in tomorrow evening.
Let's see . . . what else did I do? I did some maintenance on the house plants. Been doing some knitting: coffee cup sweaters, hats, and coasters with the leftover yarn. There's been some Office-watching too.
Emily called today to tell me that Neighbor Guy had a visitor today. There is no reason that I should have been as excited/intrigued as I was. Neighbor Guy never had a visitor (other than food delivery) in the year that I lived across the street from him. And now I'm a few thousand miles away and missed this momentous occasion. 
And I found an Apple gift card in my wallet yesterday. So, with my university discount and the gift card, I bought SPORE! It makes me a bit sad that I'm this excited about a computer game. But it's supposed to be awesome. The last computer game I bought was one of the sequels to Myst. And that's been awhile. I probably don't have time to start playing a game. But I really don't care. 
It's after 10pm, so I don't answer any more student emails until 8am. Best policy I ever instituted. But it's in stiff competition with the no questions about an assignment the day it's due policy. 


October 20, 2008

October 16, 2008


I'm taking my 1st and only midterm right now. It's take-home. And lame-tastic. 9 essay questions. About a day and a half to write. I'm bored. Or can't think anymore. 
Post-vehicular assault, I'm feeling better. My hip hurts and I'm still mentally foggy at times. Considering that I got hit by a car, that's pretty good.
Earlier this week I was really missing Oklahoma. I finally got a glimpse of the sunset. Glimpse being a bit of an overstatement. Roommate, roommate's mom, and I went to an orchard to pick apples. It was sweet. We were way the heck out of DC. It was so beautiful and peaceful. You could see really far because it was up on a hill. Good times. But sadly, no pictures. 
I'm still waiting to do anything in the lab other than finishing up the Golgi stained stuff. IACUC has to approve my protocol. I should hear back in a couple weeks if it's been approved or modified or what. Until then, I have 2 notebooks, a file of articles, and other sundry items to go through. 
Aside: All the TAs for the lab I teach spend 3 hours in the section they're in charge of and 1 hour in another TA's section. When I was in my extra hour, one of the students in there informed me that, "Of course your class finished. You're the good TA." That made me feel super-special.
Back to experimental design.


October 12, 2008


Yes, I got hit by a car on Thursday. No, I'm not terribly damaged, just very bruised and sore (confirmed by multiple x-rays and CT scans). I was in the crosswalk, so I don't have to pay for anything (it really wasn't my fault). Apparently, my leg dented the bumper. I wasn't flung very far (like 5-7 feet) Don't know if I'm going to press charges. I did get an ambulance ride with the siren on and on a body board and neck brace. Since I was a trauma level II (whatever that means), I got to experience the joy of the county hospital, which was actually pretty good. The other bad thing: I missed The Office. Thank God for the internet and his protection.

October 9, 2008

This hurts me

Just so you know:
This is a new Bible for all of you who have cancer and think that a new Bible will heal you. Now, I'm sure there's some support-group-like properties, or I've-been-there-too-ness to it. But really?

October 8, 2008

Just a gift suggestion

This library is amazing. Possibly beyond words.

October 4, 2008

Month 1, and a retraction.

I'm beginning this during office hours. I don't think anyone else is coming, though there are a few who really should. But I have a real office now with a desk and a door and everything. And desks for the two other people that I share it with. So, far it's worked out pretty well. The lab is still in chaos. Moving to our new space is still being delayed until the countertops are replaced. With what, I do not know. I'll get to start my first round of experiments soon, once all the protocol paperwork has been approved. I will say that it's an immunohistochemical study of immediate early gene expression, mostly to impress you, but not to bore you with technical details. I helped get the outdoor owls ready for impending winter. They have new owl boxes and heat lamps, and they seem pretty please with the additions. The great part of this is that my role was holding the ladder, while my adviser climbed the ladder and maneuvered the owl boxes into place. This is funny when you realize that my adviser is about 5-feet tall and generally very tiny. The South African accent enhances this effect.

Classes are pleasant and helpful. It seems that I spend most my time reading for those classes and for lab.

Amazingly enough, I'm really enjoying the teaching aspect of my job. My students are, for the most part, smart and responsible and generally pleasant. There's a couple that need to get their acts together, but hopefully that will change.

One Andrea DenHoed graced me with her presence last week. That was probably the most exciting thing that's happened to me thus far.

The weather here is fantastic. It's been in the mid-60s to mid-70s.

I've acquired houseplants. They appear to be happy.

There are some very good possibilities for a permanent church home.

The quest for a non-Starbucks coffee shop is still floundering. There's one that's very promising, but it's being remodeled (after a fire, I believe). I have found a sweet bookshop though, and that does allay my distress a bit.

I learned a new word: tokogenesis. You should look it up.

I still feel like this is just an extended vacation some days.

I've uploaded some photos to thefacebook. Take a look. The stories will be visually enhanced.

Retraction: My classmates/colleagues are not as normal as I thought. Thank God. They're actually pretty great. And they (sometimes) laugh at my jokes.


September 3, 2008


I'm pretty well settled in the new apartment now. My roommate (whose name is Katie, which may confuse some readers) is pretty great. This is, of course, a major plus. The apartment's really nice. I've met a few of the people in our section of the building. They're all pretty nice. And fairly quiet.

The people I've met so far are generally pleasant, albeit fairly normal and not very funny. These people were met at one of the following places: the one church I've visited, TA training, events for my PhD program. On said program: starting with me are 11 other people. 2 (maybe 3, there's one person I haven't met yet) of these 11 are male. One appears to be a tool. We'll see how accurate 1st impressions are.

On the science front, my advisor just came back to the country, so I'm not quite sure what I'll be doing to start out. Probably just learning new techniques. I'm teaching neurophysiology lab starting week after next, since Monday's Labor Day and having one section behind the others on the first week would be bad. I'm sure this will yield some lovely tales.TA training had made me terrified of people coming to my office an crying. But I think I'll be OK because an engineering doctoral candidate explained how to deal with this: "I just kinda...handed them a box of Kleenex...and them out of my office and told them to come back later." Inspirational. Since TA is in the college of chemical and life sciences, I'm required to take a course for half the semester on teaching biology. It's taught my 3 profs who have probably 80 or 100 years at UMD among them. And they are insane (in a good way). I have a feeling that this will be a good source of ridiculous stories. Also, "experienced" TAs did skits during training.

List of things that are different in MD/DC:
-Street "grid," wait, I didn't know that 3 roads could intersect
- BBQ sauce selection, or lack thereof. One word: Gross.
-Girl gangs: There's a listserve for our neighborhood. Apparently, some guy sent an email across the list warning of a group of middle school girls who accosted him and then chased him. It appears that he was actually scared.

I guess that's all right now. After classes actually start, I can actually say something interesting.

In case you wonder how I'm doing:
It's kind of hard right now. I go back and forth between being really happy I'm here (mostly when I'm on campus) and really wanting to go back to Norman (mostly when I think about you all). But I'm here for the next 5+ years. I think I'll feel better when I starting making friends and find a church.


August 18, 2008


The u-haul is packed and ready to go early tomorrow morning.

July 29, 2008

previous post is a lie

I don't have anywhere to live once I move, oh faithful readers. But I do have some good leads.
I think the name of this generation should be the Carpal Tunnel Syndromes (which would be a good name for a rock band). I've been doing data analysis for 2.5 straight weeks, and my wrists hurt. A lot. Have you tried to buy a mousepad lately? They're really hard to find. And there's like 2 choices. I assume that's due to laser mouses instead of the rollerball kind. Anyway, in spite of my sweet wrist-rest mousepad, this is painful.
You should all read The Overachievers. Even if you aren't one. And then you should talk about it with people.


July 9, 2008

Hooray! House!

I have a place to live in the fall. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera.
Maryland is really pretty, if humid. So, there's trees everywhere, and hills too. Big trees. This is quite lovely. Except for the roads. These roads, you see, don't run north-south and east-west. The direction you start out is probably not the direction you'll be going in about 5 minutes. These roads definitely don't intersect at right angles. And don't even think about missing your turn, going another mile, and looping back around to where you should be. That might land you in Pennsylvania. Now in the OK, you can see where you're going for a good way off. You know: Oh, there's the gas station over yonder a piece (or: I can see the gas station; it's in the distance). And by seeing destination, you can usually get there. Now in Maryland, you probably aren't going to see your target, for all the trees. But if you do, the road you think leads in that direction does not. This is really my way of saying that I got lost a lot for the first 2 or 3 days.
Also, I really like being able to get the Washington Post. This makes me quite cheerful


June 26, 2008

housing hunting

Next on agenda for the move: somewhere to live.
Therefore, the great housing quest begins Friday. This could be interesting. Living expenses are ridiculously high compared to the OK. There's some less expensive (and more rural) places east and north a bit. But that would require about a 30 minute commute.
Thoughts on commuting?
I'm only writing this because I'm waiting for Guns, Germs, and Steel to finish importing so I can listen to it on the trip. I figure driving around, not knowing where I am will be a recipe for longer-than-anticipated drive times. So, some education is in order.
Watched Be Kind Rewind tonight. It was pretty great. You should look at various "sweded" movies on the interweb. And I went bowling with Norman and Jessie. And I didn't completely fail at the bowling endeavor. There were even a couple of strikes and spares in there.
It's time to remove the laundry from my bed so I can go to sleep now.


June 17, 2008

late lab night.

Well. . . Here I am in the lab at 11:30 PM. Neat. It's been one of those days. Everything went well. Then due to tangled cables, everything went badly. After that was fixed, everything was fine again. Then my hand slipped, and it all went to crap. And then there was recovery. And things improved. Unfortunately, improvement didn't happen until about 5:30 PM. So, there was the 3 hour experiment, followed by rinsing and perfusion that is still going.
All that said, I've got a damaged experiment that barely worked, and I'm here at 11:30, waiting, until at least midnight, maybe one.
And I still want to do this for a living. I don't know what that says about me. I'm simultaneously tired and caffeinated.
I really wanted to give up and go home after damaging the spinal cord. Somehow, I was convinced to give it a chance to recover and maybe get a decent motor pattern. I could only get one clean form of scratch and no swimming. I actually need the swimming example. And I had a really nice one pre-slippage. But I take what I can get. It's days like this that it's so tempting to cut corners. Like right now, I want to cut this perfusion short by about 150mL just to go home a little sooner. But I know that going off protocol for one experiment, even just a little, is a big deal. And it's worth the extra 15 minutes (or 4 hours) to have usable data.
But I still want to go home.
Until then, I'll just keep catching up on podcasts.


May 24, 2008

shiny new blog, shiny new degree

I've had my old blog since I started college. The time has come to retire it. 
So here we go: THE GRAD SCHOOL BLOG.
The functions will be to document life in a doctoral program and let people in Oklahoma know what's going on in my life more often than the en masse e-mail updates that I'll be sending out.