torquill: Art-deco cougar face (challenge)
I keep thinking of one of Derek's stories about grad school, specifically talking about deadly seminars. It is so perfect I can't keep a straight face.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
I got approved for Planned Educational Leave for fall quarter. I just need to sort things out with financial aid before the 21st and I'm set.

And now? I sleep. A lot.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
Today:

I whipped up two 2L bottles of root beer, because I really need something fizzy to drink that doesn't have high-fructose corn syrup in it. I would have made birch beer too, but I discovered I was out. Darn.

I actually ate food. Yesterday I accidentally fasted for 23 hours. Whoops.

I helped [livejournal.com profile] eastbaygreg and his dad put together a fence for the side of his house; this has been in the making for a while, and today was finally the day to drill post holes (with a tractor, no fools we) and pour the concrete around the anchor poles. Lots of hauling and mixing of 80lb bags of concrete. We made a great team, and the line of poles is neat, plumb, and firmly set. Sunday will see the fence completed. Woo!

I relaxed a bit with some TV while eating dinner, and caught up on LJ and FB.

I ordered more Gnome birch beer extract -- and discovered that The Home Brewery has outdone my usual mail-order place, Northern Brewer. Home Brewery has started carrying a line of extracts from Rainbow Flavors; they have the usual root beer, sarsaparilla, cream soda, birch beer, orange soda... cherry, strawberry, and lemon-lime, that's different... wait, eggnog? spruce beer? passionfruit?

Needless to say, I spent a little more than I expected; I drew the line at $30 with shipping, but I got spruce beer, their birch beer, and passionfruit in addition to my Gnome red birch beer (which is actually pink and kicks like a spearmint horse). I'm exceptionally curious about these three, and I'm glad [livejournal.com profile] foogod coaxed me into using 2L bottles, as it'll be much easier to do a small experimental batch of these without the undertaking of two dozen longnecks. I still like glass bottles, but two-liters are fast and small-scale.

I then finished the introduction for my review article. I desperately need to spend some serious time on this, as I'm getting closer to the deadline than I'm comfortable with. But I finished a major section, yay!

Yesterday I spent working on the RV, repairing the door, adding a water tank drain, and getting new keys made. I just need to load it up with the stuff we have here before it heads back over the hill.

Tomorrow will be two parties, one of which will have me working with yeast and honey and hopefully not requiring that I stand all the time; my feet hurt. Then I'll help assemble the facing boards for Greg's fence on Sunday, and possibly finish up with a tiki party in Berkeley.

Whew.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (school)
For my information, mostly... )
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
I managed to disassemble my laptop (for the second time), change out the power jack, and got it up and running again this weekend. It was complex to take apart, but well-labeled and designed... Compaq pleases me.

I've been getting a lot of quality sleep in the past few days, but it's still taking pills to get me there. I'm hoping that will change once I'm no longer so tired and stressed that I can't sleep. I'm still very low on spoons.

I handed in the latest draft of my proposal last Tuesday, before I spent the rest of the week in a CFS crash. My prof says we'll have a meeting about it this coming week; I think he'll like this version better, as I had more of an idea of what he wanted. I'm hoping to get done with the planning stage RSN so that I can actually get my hands dirty again.

I'm still waiting on a water filter cartridge. It turns out that my normal shopkeeper didn't screw up in her order -- she asked the distributor to drop-ship two AP #10's, which are the proper filter. They didn't fit. Another look revealed that it was related to the little stamp on their sides that identified them as AP #20's. The distributor, much chastened (she had lectured me on how to insert the filters several times when I first called to report the problem, never mind I've been doing it for years) has promised to deliver new ones. I'm in the middle of week two of bottled water, and that gets old quickly.

Case Studies is being demanding but not difficult; I've gotten out of the habit of doing assignments every single week. At least they're different: our current paper is a thought-experiment, where we have to take a pathogen-host system and describe it in ecology terms, avoiding a bunch of words and phrases related to pathology. It's an odd idea, but I like thought-experiments in general. I need to do some research for my Mycology Seminar presentation at the end of May.

Oh, and I've gotten hooked on NCIS. Mark Harmon :)

Things are otherwise status quo. Struggling healthwise, but I think if I get my sleep in line I'll be okay. Sixteen months to go.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (drink)
Today... was a very long day.

I got to school at 8:30, ran a Hail Mary session for about three hours, and proceeded to take a 2.5 hour exam. (For the record: that was a midterm.) I was the first to finish.

Conclusions: my last-ditch effort helped, though not as much as I would have liked... and Bryce doesn't write quite as hard an exam as his predecessor. B, I think.

I had just enough time to walk to my car, drive to the other parking garage, find parking (%$#&@%#!) and walk to CAPS. I ate a couple of bites of lunch (3pm and I had only had an energy bar and a cheese roll) while I waited. My counselor told me that she didn't have the names of referrals back yet, so we chatted for an hour. She'll send them to me by email.

I ate the rest of my lunch at 4:15, sitting in my car and reading. Then I drove home.



Hopefully, now that most of my stressors are either dealt with, naturally gone, or becoming less prominent, I'll have a chance to catch my breath before the next thing blows up. Here's hoping.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (headdesk)
Never before have I felt like my teachers were actually trying to fail me.

They didn't seem insane earlier...
torquill: Tea cures all ills (tea)
Let me tell you about my week. )
torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
Yesterday was Virology lab. We have some plants in a little greenhouse out at the edge of campus, and we needed to check them before lab. So my lab group (three of us), one person from the other group, and Prof. Bryce Falk went out around 2:00. Bryce and Candice, the other group member, were walking, but the three from my group took bikes.

We checked the plants (dramatic symptoms from our unknown virus; that should help with ID) and then took off to get to the lab session itself. I rode out to the bike path outside the greenhouse complex, and just after completing the turn, my front wheel skidded abruptly to the left on the wet pavement. I felt my right knee pop out of joint, and had just enough time to think, "God, I hope I didn't tear a ligament" before I hit the ground.

All that followed, cut for friends-list sanity... )

So, the upshot: I'm going to be staying in bed today and tomorrow, with the hope that I can walk well enough to limp around at [livejournal.com profile] eastbaygreg's company party tomorrow evening. The knee is stiff and swollen this morning, but no worse functionally; I'll see about massaging it and applying heat and Ibuprofen soon. I've been pretty cheerful during most of this ordeal, particularly once I had good cause to assume no serious damage had been done... I think it has something to do with the fact that now I get yet another day off school. Sure, I can't spend it digging in the garden, but I can relax a bit. :)

Done with excitement. Ready for boredom now.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (drink)
Details on the latest school schedule change-up )
torquill: Formula 409 as a chemical agent: it is, after all, a neurotoxin (wmd)
I was dumb on Tuesday and hung around Bacteriology lab, even though I was reacting to the room. I went home early, but the damage was done.

I stayed home sick yesterday, though I felt well enough by evening to BART down to [livejournal.com profile] knaveofhearts' place for our usual Wednesday thing. This morning was a different story.

I figured that fresh air and light exercise might help, so I headed off to school anyway (besides, I have cookies to deliver to my Bacteriology lab partner, as I abandoned her to do the plasmid isolation by herself on Tuesday). I got to Hutchinson and figured out that I lose any train of thought within about three seconds. This is not conducive to doing lab procedures like the PCR I wanted to do today. No work for me this morning.

This exposure is being awfully "sticky". It's been a while since I've gotten a long exposure, and I'm certain now that this is EGBE, the real deal. Somebody must have snuck some whiteboard cleaner or 409 into the lab room late Monday or very early Tuesday. I'm waiting for the department secretary to get back from a meeting so that I can set her to investigate and hopefully solve the problem. I'll have to see whether the lab room has aired out enough for me to go to class this afternoon.

I'm puttering around on the computer, trying to ignore the slight nausea and brainfog... I cashed my paycheck (finally!) and I should run the numbers on that, to find out what my tax bracket is -- I owe taxes on the first, tiny paycheck, so I should find out how much to set aside -- and whether I can transfer funds back to savings now.

Or I could just sit here and glaze.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
I'm about two weeks behind on my friends list, without a lot of hope of catching up; if there's something important in your life that you haven't spoken to me in person about yet, please let me know.

Quite a bit has been going on, but I haven't had much chance to post. School is good, labwork is good, home is good. The garden is slowing down after a patchwork year. Free time is at a premium. Some highlights: )

How is everybody?
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
I'm feeling pretty good.

I dealt with a bunch of administrative and orientation stuff this week, culminating in the department retreat today -- I got to hear about current research projects and hobnob with the rest of the department over lunch. I've also talked a bit more with Dr. Rowhani.

The upshot is that I start in the lab on Monday. Hopefully I can get something of a head start before classes start on Thursday... Dr. Rowhani (I should ask him whether I can call him Adib like everyone else) is pretty laid back on what hours I work (his comment was "you have two and a half years to do a project; I know you'll be here.") He's also mellow about mp3 players and dress codes, and has assured me that he keeps his lunch in a corner of the cold storage locker when the fridge fills up, so I could do the same. I think we'll get along.

He doesn't expect me to get much done in the first two weeks, and he won't be breathing down my neck even after that. Whew.

I had been feeling a bit panicky this week, but after today I'm much more calm. I've met a lot of my colleagues in the lab now -- and that's what they are, colleagues. Not classmates, not teachers; even Dr. R is more of a senior colleague/manager than a classroom prof, so he commands less formality and a different kind of respect. I had told myself that grad school would be more like a job, but it's finally soaked in now.

It feels a bit like the transition between high school and college was, and that's a good thing.

I'll be a researcher. Golly.

I'm also feeling pretty decent because I finished deepening the trench out front -- the 18-inch trench between the lawn and the front strip that has been nearly two years in the making. I'll see about fitting the plastic root barrier into it tomorrow and filling it in, and then we'll be ready (finally!) to run irrigation pipe. It might actually get landscaped before I retire. Hallelujah!

I baked a giant loaf of sandwich bread -- the second attempt came out beautifully. I'll have sandwiches for work. :)

So, yeah, things seem to be going well.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (teh mad)
I am so angry, I'm literally shaking.

One last final, right? Time to hand in the last lab report, take the test, and be done. I've already been accepted to grad school, so (as long as I pass) my eventual grade is a formality. I can do that.

I had thought the study guide for weed biology was rather sketchy, but the midterm was pretty easy, as such things go. A few little twists, but okay. I had a pretty good grasp of most things.

Then I go in there and 1) several of the questions were just like the study ones, except reversed -- i.e. they looked exactly the same if you didn't happen to catch that it said "weed" instead of "crop", or "declining" instead of "growing"... 2) I was supposed to be able to construct a population trend, without actual numbers, on a double log scale (constant vs. log is something I'm only just getting the hang of mentally translating into), and 3) he told us to create a plausible linear-algebra transition matrix (3x3), for a "declining" weed population no less, out of thin air and brain cells.

I understood all the terms involved. I understood the relevant concepts (I thought), like what all of the numbers in the matrix meant, how to apply it, and so on... I could answer questions (even vague ones) like "What makes a weed more invasive in a disturbed area?" Sure, I'll take a stab at that one. But this... this...

I wrote a couple of scathing comments about the particularly bad questions, threw a few numbers into the 3x3 matrix that didn't look too weird, made a nasty remark on the last page about the fact that the expectations we were studying under didn't cover this sort of thing, and told the TA it was a damn good thing I don't care about my class grade when I tossed my paper on his desk. I suppose I should be grateful that Marcel himself was nowhere to be found, because I would have been very, very tempted to drag him into the hall and make a few choice remarks that might have further damaged my grade.

I should be happy it's over. I'm just mad.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (dumb)
It occurs to me that senior year of college really is the hardest. I didn't think it would be true for me, but it has been, and I'm not really sure why.

The reason I didn't realize it until recently is that it crept up on me. I was just thinking about the fact that I used to choose my study times; I used to have something of a social life, except during midterms and finals; I used to have hobbies like sewing, gardening, and baking; I used to sleep more. Gradually, as the years went on, I lost my hobbies (or had to fight for time for them), then my social life eroded far past the acceptable point and into my romantic life, then I started getting much less sleep on a regular basis than I actually need, then I was using more evenings for schoolwork, then I lost my time to relax while commuting (reading for school rather than for pleasure).... finally, this year, I hit the point where I had lost not just my evenings but almost all my weekends. I was lucky to get one full day a week to myself, and it was generally spent thinking about all the work I was postponing.

You could say it was due to progressing from lower-division to higher-division classes, but that's not really true. In each quarter I have had a couple of upper-div classes (generally major classes) and a lower-div one. In the beginning I was taking biochemistry, plant anatomy, and plant propagation, all of which were technically upper-div (even though plant prop was a pushover)... why did I have so much more time then, with the monster of biochem and a strenuous plant anatomy class, than I do now with a history class, a weed science class much less difficult than plant anat, and the pushover of intro to winemaking?

I really can't figure it out. All I know is that I miss weekends and evenings. I miss not having to calculate when I'm going to do laundry. I miss reading livejournal and watching a TV program every week or two. My shoulders are an absolute wreck this week and I'm having to procrastinate to keep my concentration, because I feel like I haven't had more than a couple of hours of unfettered free time in the last couple of months. Maybe the time crunch is due to needing so much more time to unwind because of progressively deeper burnout.

If the work world is ever like this I'm quitting my job. I sure hope what they say about grad school -- that you manage your own time -- really is true; I can't handle this grindstone for another two years.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (dumb)
I procrastinated on writing my weed bio paper a lot today... between wanting weekend recreation, and having a new toy to play with, I spent a lot of time mucking about with the new laptop. Changing settings, installing programs I wanted, choosing a background...

Only to discover, with some disgust, that since I had absentmindedly left the wireless antenna turned off when I wiped windows, I now have no way to turn it back on. Pressing the dedicated antenna button doesn't change its status, nor does the button-press even rate a note in the system log. Doing it in the bios doesn't help. ACPI has never heard of it. It's like the wireless card doesn't exist.

The only way I can get it back is to demolish my carefully constructed linux install by restoring windows, allow it to load the wireless button driver, press the damned button, and then reinstall linux. Another day's worth of work, probably.*

Siiiiiigh.**

I've conducted a full backup of my linux system, in the hope that I can just pour the tarball onto a fresh installation and get all my hours of work restored. (I need to go make a note of the current partition table, too.)

Once I set the backup running, I guiltily went back to my paper. I have it half-done (the easy half), and I have a question out to the TA on what sources I can use for the other half. Once he answers, I'm pretty well positioned to polish it off in 3-4 hours of work, I think. Plus the icing (bibliography, budget, and timeline for the project). It's due on the 9th, so that's manageable. Then all I have is the lab report... and studying for finals. Urk.

Edit: I tried starving the machine (unplug it and take out the battery for about 10 min), but that didn't reset it; a trip to the bios took about 10 attempts (what I wanted was F9) and didn't have a setting for the antenna status, though I was able to increase the amount of time I have to press a function key before it starts the bootloader.


*Next to this, the fact that the system beep doesn't work is trivial.
**Hey, Alex, remember what you said about how things always seem to go wrong in ways that are tedious to fix?
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (dumb)
So how is it that the last three weeks of this term feel longer than the last two terms combined?

One paper down, two to go...
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (dumb)
Stuff due in the next two and a half weeks -- this does not include finals:

the list )

I'm drop-dead exhausted at the end of the school day, and I'm supposed to get all this done... while also trying to keep my life from falling apart around me. You know, things like laundry, getting gas and food, fixing my computer, all that.

I'm going to drop something. Time to figure out what's least harmful and cut my losses.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
I'm doing pretty well (beyond having a cough because, surprise, my tonsils are swollen again). I've hit a few snags this week -- namely that the pack of yeast I used for the root beer last weekend was dead (the sarsaparilla is doing a little better), and apparently Yahoo!IM has changed its protocols yet again, so that I can't log on this morning. I'll deal with the root beer next week, and try to carve out a little time to look at IM clients (I have my eye on Freehoo for my text-based client, which is the hardest thing to find... no idea whether Gaim will still work this time).

In the meantime, I've collected a few observations on this quarter's classes. )
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (drink)
I will never have to deal with that rather pathetic history teacher ever again.

I will not have to do another idiotic in-class essay.

I will no longer have a class where they treat us like naughty cheating sixth-graders.

I won't have to wrestle with the TA of plant biotech over how a journal abstract should be written.

I won't have to read that really horrible Crop Ecology book again. (I sold it today.)

I (presumably) won't have to deal with calculating root and soil water potentials after this. Hallelujah!

I won't have to struggle through that painfully disorganized book about Canudos anymore.


Here's to next quarter being a little more interesting (in a good way).

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torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
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