Thursday, October 29, 2009


Even for me the level of stress has been high at work lately. I ended up visiting The Twin a few weeks ago for a weekend, and when I got back on Sunday I discovered that one of my profs had decided to surprise us with a lab. So on the following Monday and Tuesday I was up at the local observatory trying to figure out why the camera suddenly stopped taking images and hauling on a giant 100 year old telescope and praying that the tracking gears didn't turn off by the time we finally got things in focus. I stayed up there until 3am both nights, and we had so much trouble with some of the data that we had to trim some of the parts off the lab, but on the plus side we got some sweet images of Jupiter and resolved a lovely binary despite it being smaller than the seeing would allow.

Scientific aside:
(What I mean by that is that the atmosphere is full of fluctuations that keep you from distinguishing really small things, like two stars that are very very close together. Ie, binaries. Basically the atmosphere bumps your image around so much that you can't distinguish between a point of light that might've come from one star or a point that'd come from the other. But... there are secret methods! Speckle interferometry, specifically. You see the atmosphere is lumpy and tangled and turbulent, but it acts kind of like a whole bunch of lenses (like from your glasses) spread fairly evenly across the sky. So you can use those lenses and some statistical methods to pick out which points of light belong to which of the two stars in a binary and thus figure out how far apart they are! fun!)

Anyway, the Wednesday after that was the day before a large homework set was due so I stayed up until 4am finishing it. Thursday night I started working on the huge set due on Monday, but I also had to plan the picnic, which took up all of Friday and Saturday. Sunday I came in and worked until 3am, Monday until 4am. Tuesday I got home by 2am, and last night (this morning) by 4am.

So basically, sleep deprivation is prevalent, and now I have to start a new lab, a proposal, and a homework set.

It's very strange, though. Once I finish a homework set (especially a big one like I just turned in), a great calm envelopes me. It's cathartic--just letting go and being free. Even if I have a ton of other stuff piling up around me, for a few minutes anyway I feel rested and relaxed.

This weekend I am going to buy a cheap, small laptop from someplace like walmart or AT&T or something. we're talking $200, for reals now.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What bothers me the most

I think what really bothers me the most about being in my field is the fact that most people are convinced that there isn't a problem.

Even here, where I've found a welcoming environment and classes I enjoy and challenging, interesting research--even here we have at most 3 female faculty and 1 African-American. Even here, there's a lack of parity in admitted graduate students, and at every other level.

These people are SCIENTISTS. Look at the data! And don't try that "Well, [x group of minorities] just don't seem to be interested in the field." Scientist, remember? Ask why! Look for causes and correlations. Try experimental techniques (like putting some of x group on your recruiting posters, or nominating them for awards, or hiring them). Plot results. Repeat experiments. TRY.

Instead I get the "shrug", or the "yeah" and moving on, or, *shudder* worse yet, the "Well, I wish there were more of x group as well." Yeah, some of your best friends are x group too, right?


Autumn has come at last. The fall air closes its crisp mouth over the auburn and cinnamon leaves. Outside, decades of pine needles lay gathered like straw colored hair, sweetening in the sun. The air without sun has a bite to it, and the air full of sun is yellow as sunset, waiting for winter to gather.

Last week at my food coop I got apple cider, more broccoli than you can shake a stick at, honey, 2 lbs of apples, 2 lbs of potatoes, sprouts, and bibb lettuce. oh, and a pumpkin!

too bad I can't make pie out of it--it's too big. But I will carve it and roast its seeds and love it and call it George.

In other news: homework eats me alive. I have to finish a huuuuge lab report for Tuesday, and a huuuuge homework set for Monday. And then there's the weekly medium-huge homework set for Thursday, and meetings galore, my flu shot this week, I need to reduce data from my thesis, I should write letters and call people, mail packages, get kittens, go shopping, go to the halloween party, clean and organize my apartment, study, learn, study some more.... oh, did I mention I started my research? It looks pretty neat! But you know, more time.

(I think my head may explode. If so, remember that I love you all and I am made of candy)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Yep. They're coming to eat you.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Delicious food and deadly homework

I was here until 4am this morning, and came back after 3.5 hours of sleep. nrrrr. But I also got permission to turn in the programming/graphing part of the homework in before today is over. So; yay for that!

On a more positive side: a fantastic haul from the CSA this week!

1/2 gallon apple cider (!!!)
1 giant turnip (stew!)
5 radishes (what am I going to DO with them?)
2/3 lb of green beans, 1 lb of roma tomatoes (nom!)
1 lb of red apples of some sort
2 jalapenos (oh, shoot!)
2 heads of bibb lettuce (the guinea pig rejoices. So do I!)
1 dozen beautiful eggs
1 lb of granola (I have so much granola that I am going to start making granola bars with melted peanut butter)
2 loaves of bread (I splurged with my store credit... don't know why I got two, but they look great!)
3 small loaves of pumpkin bread (! these are like the mini-loaves from the farmer's market back home. They're very delicious, as I have not had so many baked goods in recent times)
2 zucchini (I am SO making walnut zucchini bread this weekend)

They had walnuts and chestnuts, too, but I didn't get any because I don't know if I could crack them--I don't have a cracker, nor a mallet. Might be challenging.

Last night I made tacos and today, a salad. Things are looking up, foodwise.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sweet, Sweet, Spacey Freedom

I got my cast off! Success on all fronts! the ankle is sore and the muscle has disappeared (!) but I've done a lot of walking in the last couple days and I think that's helping.

This has been a productive weekend of getting ready for life, since we had a break here and for reasons unknown to me the homework content for this week went down. I kind of view it as starting over at the beginning of the semester. I purchased a carpet, a dining room table, appropriate clothing for work, and a new lamp. And I got my hair cut and decided to try a perm for the first time (boy is it WEIRD). I also started a new knitting project (doh!) and made good progress on scarf #1 out of 2. I frogged #3 and will have to start it over (but I got some black yarn now, so I think that will go well with the dark purple. Somehow.).

I also gave some serious thought to getting some kitties. There are two brothers at one of the local shelters who are pretty young, and adorable. I think, however, that I might just have to wait until next year, when I live in a better place. Or... until I have more money. Also I worry that the guinea pig will be sad because I will pay less attention to her. And I love the little piggy. Even if she's a spoiled brat sometimes.

Today I tried something exciting with my squash. I call it spice cake:

Squash Spice Cake

2 c flour
1 1/4 c sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 stick (1/2 c) of butter
1-2 cups of boiled, mashed, skinned squash (I used 2 small yellow squash for this and did my best to pick out the seeds. Not sure why.)

1) mix eggs, milk, and butter until relatively smooth.
2) in a separate bowl, blend/sift/stir flour, sugar, cinnamon, spices, soda, and salt until well mixed.
3) Pour dry mix into wet mix slowly while beating. Beat until smooth or uniform
4) add squash and mix well.
5) pour in a greased 9x13 or whatever type of pan you like and cook for 40 min at 350 degrees.