ahah, i can’t …

04/12/2011 at 05:15 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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ahah, i can’t believe this old thing is still here.  it’s funny to read my old angry self.  

still in phd school and still hacking away at it, but faaar less bitter.  something about getting past the qualifying exam (which i didn’t take until THIS sept), just makes a person… see grad school a little differently.  

let’s see if i can spruce this old page up a bit in the meantime!

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friends

05/07/2010 at 20:08 | Posted in graduate studies, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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one of my lab mates laughs whenever i tell her i’m going out with friends and tells me “[mdr410], you need to just lose the friends.  that’s the secret to grad school.”

she’s probably right.  take this past weekend.  a guy i’ve been seeing got himself drunk enough to explain to me what his “true lifestyle” is – then spent the weekend wanting to talk to me about it, instead of letting me move on.

a whole set of friends call me repeatedly telling me “your supervisor works you too hard, tell him you need a life” – yeah, that’ll work.

another couple of friends, who have just graduated with their master’s degrees, are constantly upset with me when i ask for their understanding when i can’t meet up every week.

i’m a nice person, so i don’t want to tell people to eff off, and each of these people is fantastic in his/her own right, but seriously, i am not sure what to do anymore.  maybe i should just tell people to call me in *hopefully* four years.

a sampling of a grad student's life

the road to my qualifying exam is paved with…

03/07/2010 at 00:33 | Posted in graduate studies, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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disaster is the best word to describe my relationship to this blog and to my studies.

after the term from hell (two classes plus a boss who treats you like a research associate instead of a grad student), it’s taken me a while to get back to a baseline level of normal.  wake up at 830am, drag my ass to school by 930 (i’m supposed to be there at 9…), do some experiments, pump body full of caffeine, do more experiments, more caffeine – maybe realize that lunch is important, then leave school at 6pm, go to a coffee shop and study.  9pm, realize the cafe will probably close in an hour and it’s sad that i’m still there and not at home.  also, hunger starts to set in, and i hope there’s food at home.  10pm, watch tv for an hour, while i try to remember that life is worth it, 12am (yeah, that hour was actually two hours…) sleep.

you see, my advisory committee thinks that i’m a strong enough student that i can take the phd qualifying exam, and my supervisor wants that transfer to happen as soon as possible – and so i only have a few months to prepare (well, two now) for an exam that scares me to no end.  what’s so bad, you ask?  i can’t remember any biochemistry basics.  it’s like i never took an honor’s degree!   and so, i’m stumbling around through life… hanging onto things like the internet and tv for a connection to reality.

stay tuned for more depression…

and if you want insight into grad school – read phdcomics (see links).  you’ll laugh, and if you are in grad school, you’ll cry… because it’s all true.   sigh…

oh, the holidays…

22/12/2009 at 01:06 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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is there something about the holidays that makes people go insane?  i haven’t looked for any studies… but honestly, every year, i gauge the christmas craaaaaze level by how scared i am of other drivers.  no joke.

yesterday, one of those little semi trucks couldn’t decide whether he wanted to be in my lane or the one on the right.. and so instead of choosing one and sticking to it until he could figure that out in his sub-average brain, he decided he would just fucking swerve until the truck naturally came to an equilibrium somewhere.  i was behind him and wondering whether i could lane change myself, or if i were better off waiting for the next exit… when i noticed the car next to him.  i gave the horn a good push.  we were on a bridge by this point, and thankfully he took the hint and stayed in his own lane… otherwise i might have been witness to a horrendous collision.

the other day, i was about to turn left, and saw the car coming toward me –

he was slowing down, and it was a yellow, so i figured, he’s about to stop (it’s now illegal in this town to fly through the yellow).  no, sir. as soon as i started to turn i realized my mistake.  he hadn’t  seen the yellow at all, and in fact, even if he was slowing down – that had been by accident.  guy looked at me as he flew past with a look of “oh.”  yeah, seriously, asshole.  learn to fucking drive.

i don’t think we should be as afraid of drunk drivers and cell-phone users as we should be of holiday drivers.  see, at least with the former two, they do not form the majority of drivers.  but holiday drivers – that’s fucking everyone, man!  it’s that guy walking across the street right now… it’s your old grade 2 teacher – it’s even your mom.

so these holidays, folks,  take care out there – and watch out for those sober bastards!  they’re more likely to hit you than my engineering buddies!

a message to non-scientists everywhere….

16/12/2009 at 16:33 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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cafés: the key to overcoming study-blocks

13/12/2009 at 22:57 | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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I don’t know what it is about coffee, or about the coffeeshop atmosphere, but there is something about it that makes it easy to overcome motivation-blocks and move into the realm of active thought.  Something about my weeks makes me completely shut down on Saturdays.  Literally, I spend my Saturdays in bed all day… maybe watch a movie or two… then read a bit of a book and ponder how depressing my life is (which it really isn’t – but on Saturdays it feels like it is)…  But on Sundays, I try to get out.  Last week, I was at school (I should probably go in later today and make some buffers, actually).  This week, I am at a local coffeeshop.  (That’s right, I’m breaking with society’s norm, and I am not at Starbucks!)

Mid-December finds this place packed with students studying for finals, and people visiting with friends before the holidays really kick in.  It’s a little loud at times, but there is nice music in the background… and lots of light… and I love picking up on little conversations around me…. It just feels more alive, I think, than a university library.

Mid-December, the libraries at the university – even the arts one – are filled with tension.  You can feel it when you walk in, and your steps echo through the place.  Only a few students look up, you feel that they are thinking: “why the hell are you here if you can’t walk quietly?!”  The ones that don’t look up send the message that despite your loudness, they are scared enough for exams that they don’t care anymore; “fuck your shoes,” they are saying.

What am I doing today?  You ask – well, apart from getting motivated about my life and how crappy it isn’t (positive self-talk is important!).  I am working on finding answers to some theological questions my friend Daniel has sent me.  I know nothing about the theology he is presenting… but I do know some things about an opposing form of thought that he is interested in.  The only problem is that since I do not know much about what he is talking about… understanding his questions is extremely challenging.  Actually, while I respect his beliefs… I do not find the questions as important.  The nuance of when God created the universe… whether there was a gap in time between the creation of the universe and His existence, these things are issues that I am not very much concerned with.  But, I find Daniel’s knowledge of the philosophy of science interesting…  So, there needs to be some give and take!

Anyway, the moral of all this rambling is that I have not yet found a better cure for lack of motivation than going to a café, doing some reading, and seeing other people – just seeing them makes me feel more human!

Ok… I’m off to read up on creationism….

the quest for a hobby

05/12/2009 at 07:52 | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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A few months ago, I decided that I was going to take up photography.  I’ve always wanted to, but I’ve never had the time for a course or anything serious like that.  Regardless, I threw caution to the wind, did some research, dug out my savings, and purchased a glorious (and cheap) DSLR.  I took photos all summer… (and they were satisfactory) but, again, I’ve lost the drive.

Today, after a much-needed conversation with a friend, I have decided to take a course!  I have done a quick search, and found one that suits me – but it might be full… unfortunately, I am realizing this at a very ungodly hour, and apparently these schools close at such hours.  Alas!  The world does not understand that students are awake 24/7.

Side note: one of my friends today came up to me and was like “did you hear about [Lauren]?”  “No,” I said.  “What happened?” “Dude, she was totally behind on her essays – she had two due today – and so she’s had like 4 coffees, and 2 redbulls today.  At about 2:30pm, she was hallucinating.  [Sean]’s been keeping her company… but apparently nothing she says makes any sense!”  (we laughed at Lauren’s expense – but this is the sad reality of caffeine overdose)

Anyway, so that is the start of my quest for a hobby.  Something that people can relate to, and that will exercise a different part of my brain.  (Although, my mother suggests pilates. Apparently, it makes you taller).  I’ve included a sample of what *I hope* is to come!

studying reality MUST be shitty – part 1

03/12/2009 at 23:06 | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Since starting my grad studies, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to fess up to what I do.  People, obviously, ask: what do you do?  And when I inevitably say “oh, I’m doing my Master’s” and specify the subject… they are stunned (I probably don’t look much like a scientist), and the conversation fizzles from there.  And I’m stuck wondering if I should try and demean what I do… or appear interested in their work, or just let the conversation fizzle out and walk away awkwardly.

(often, I try to appear interested in what they do – it backfires as soon as that line of questioning is over)

The odd time, I’ve had people ask me about my project.  They listen for a bit, and then suddenly the conversation becomes one in which (apparently) I am the Devil’s apprentice, and the world’s problems and apocalyptic destiny is completely and utterly my fault.  Then they start to wonder aloud about how such a wonderful person with so much potential could fall into such an obvious trap.  If these people were strangers, I might tell them to eff off, but sadly, more often than not, they are friends of the family, or spouses of my friends, etc.  In other words, even as they heap injustices on me, I have to smile and nod and praise their obvious greater insight.

For a while now, I’ve been following the tags on wordpress, and I am amazed at the results that I get when I search under “science”.   So many people are ranting about how terrible science is, and how much it denies God and the like.   I actually find it rather confusing.  Why are they considered mutually exclusive?

Science is a means by which reality can be investigated.  Religion is also a means of investigating reality – this is why they are two repositories – sources – of knowledge.   And there are not two realities.  It is simply that within this one reality, there are two human conditions, the physical and the spiritual.  This is why spiritual attributes such as love, generosity, kindness, and justice have an effect on our physical world, just as lack of such spiritual qualities also does (ie. Hate, greed, malice, and injustice).  The physical, contrary to what many believe, also has an effect on the spiritual.  Consider the effects of such physical accomplishments such as speech and communication, transportation, medicine, and housing, on the amelioration of the human condition, and how much that has advanced our abilities to acquire and develop spiritual qualities.  Consider how the detrimental physical things that we see in society – the development of armaments and war, poverty, consumerism, to name a few – how much these things hurt our hearts and cause our souls pain.

So when these links between science and religion are so clear to us, why do we fight and attack each other so much?

favorite xkcd comic

03/12/2009 at 06:28 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

unfortunately, one busy week, i read all the xkcd comics to date.  now i hit refresh every so often and get excited when i see new ones.  they are epic.

Post 1

02/12/2009 at 22:29 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Seven months into my Master’s program and I am – like most others in my position – knee-deep in long, gruesome experiments, and completely buried under my “to do” list.  I feel happy when I think about how epically cool I consider my work, and exhausted when I consider that I do not have a life outside of this world.  I fight the reflex to talk about school with my friends.

Yesterday, I met up with my best friend and her sister, and found myself silent for half an hour (I couldn’t think of anything not-school-related to talk about!)…then finally gave in and told them about my day.  My friend’s response “see?  This is what you’re supposed to say when I ask ‘what’s up?’!!”  I smiled, and nodded.  But what could I say?  What response would have explained to her: I need to not think about school for the two hours a week I can actually laugh and be with you, so that I can go straight back to the lab and keep on working?  She might say “just go for a walk” or “listen to some nice music”.  But actually, I’ve started to do calculations in my head as I walk (the stereotype of an absent-minded professor is becoming very real to me!).  And when I am with people I find myself planning my next set of experiments… scheduling various assays and incubations… trying to figure out how I can overlap them in the optimal way so as to do 2-3 things at once.  Then, wondering, do I really need to do laundry this weekend?  How important is unpacking anyway?  (I moved over two months ago, and still live out of half a suitcase of clothes – the sad part is that I’m sorta impressed by how little of my crap I can get by on…)  …you get the idea, I’m sure.

I guess the tough part is that I really love my work – but there’s a point at which you need to do something else.  You need to exercise those other parts of the brain.  You know, get out there, be social, find a hobby, take up a sport, go travelling – those sorts of “normal things”, that sub-genius people do.  😛  I’m obviously kidding about the “genius” part, but the rest, I’m quite serious about.

So, I think this is what this blog is about.  The quest to live life – in all its wholeness.

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