Sunday, April 29, 2007

Dr. Ellie, at your service.


I'll post more about the thesis, and the whole journey, soon. I'm moving tomorrow, to join my husband.

Can't wait.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I've decided to only update on Scientknits for the time being.

The white background is more calming, and the option to write whatever I want, even though it's self-imposed, makes me feel better.

I do have 60 pages of text, plus figures, so when you put it all together, I would wager a guess that I'm somewhere around 2/3 finished. That factoid makes me happy.

Writing the discussion does not.

So, check out for the next little while. I'll update here when the mood strikes, and will definitely post around defense-time.

Monday, February 19, 2007


I knew this was going to happen. It always happens.

The process of moving out of the apartment and moving home was planned within an inch of its life. Even so, I'm still constantly running up against distractions and screw-ups.

The last few days in the apartment came upon us out of nowhere, and I quickly realized that my productivity was going to drop to zero without my even trying to slack off. And, I was Ok with that. I knew it would take a little while to adapt to new surroundings, and being without Hubby to talk to all hours of the day.

I didn't really realize how much I depended on having him around to keep me calm.

I allowed myself to take Sunday completely off, and not even worry about working. It was only a little relaxing (even though sleeping in was heavenly). I found myself immediately falling into my worst habits - taking care of everyone else. I made dinner last night for Mom, and made sure she got to bed early. This morning, though, she had some fairly substantial dental work done quite early. I got out of bed, made myself some coffee, and had breakfast. And, when she got home, I made sure she was OK, got her some ibuprofen, and set her down for a nap.

And now... now what?

I'm sitting here, in the basement (the TV isn't even on), and my boxes of papers are all circled nicely around me, the computer is set up (complete with functioning internet so I can do database searching), and I'm absolutely paralytic.

The thought of opening up the thesis document, even just reading it over, makes me sick to my stomach. All I want to do is call Hubby and ask for some reassurance, but I don't want to throw him off his game down there. He's so excited about the new city and the new apartment and the new job, and I don't want him spending his time worrying that I'm OK.

(not to mention the fact that, as a 29-year-old woman, I'm being lectured by my father - who's 1000km away - about phone bills and how I can't talk to my husband when I need to because it costs too much money)

It's strange to feel like the adult in the house, and like a highschooler, both at the same time.

This is really thesis-based; perhaps I'll double-post.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Too much to do.

So, long story short -

I may be out of here in time to make May convocation.

Problem is - we have three days to clear out of this apartment, hubby is moving to the new city without me, and I'm going to have to live with my parents until this stupid thesis is finished.

And I have 6 weeks to finish it.

I'm trying my damndest not to freak out, but it's so hard to stay calm.

I just want to bury my head in the sand and never come up for air.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

So much for the committee being available.

So, I found out last night that three of my committee members can't be here, just as I feared, for the dates I wanted to defend.

One of them I knew about - he's on sabbatical - and we'd always intended on him conference-calling in.

Having three on conference call would mean I'd be confronted with a telephone for pretty much the entire thing, and that includes the external examiner as well as my boss.

This May graduation is slipping away more and more every minute.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

More data analysis...

So, I may not have mentioned it before, but my thesis has three main projects.

The first one is pretty much done, from data collection to analysis to conclusions.

The second one is about two thirds done; data collection - check. analysis - almost check. conclusions - pretty predictable, so check.

The third one is also pretty much done. data, analysis, conclusions - check check check.

This afternoon I finally sat down to re-do some of the analyses for the second project, which meant I had to re-learn a bunch of programs and methods. I almost had a nervous breakdown, and yelled at my husband twice for no reason. The good thing is, I found some online support material that I hadn't read before, and it helped.

I know now how to complete nearly all of the analyses that I need.

Focussing - it's a good thing.

Friday, February 02, 2007

A little reprieve for me.

So, because of all that nastiness that's happened in the past couple of months, I was in a really awkward position with my thesis work. I'd applied to graduate, but was unable to make the deadlines set out by the faculty.

Now, this is a bit of a crisis. I want to graduate with my husband - we met in grad school, married in grad school, and have seen each other through this whole benchwork/thesis/breakdown business. Plus, I've pretty much lost six weeks of productivity for medical reasons, which was completely out of my control; I'd be on track if it wasn't for that. So, I went to the dean.

Long story short - I got the three week extension I was looking for.

The only caveat is that this whole thing is dependent on all my commmittee members being available for a defense to be scheduled within a very narrow window. That's the only thing that could prevent me from graduating in May.

If, Heaven forbid, something like that happens, I'll keep on trucking, and defend ASAP. I may not graduate right away, but I'll be finished. Finished, and able to relax for at least a couple of weeks before looking for work, and before moving permanently to our new apartment.

(you see, Hubby is moving in two weeks, but I'm coming back here to finish my thesis. I know I won't be able to concentrate in a new, exciting city).

Game On!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I'm married to a doctor!

Hubby was successful, of course... and we got to go out for both lunch and dinner afterwards, since the defense was at 8:30AM.

Now there are no excuses for my procrastinating. Ack.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Well, hubby has a little over 60 hours before defending. He's done practice presentations, and he's ready. I don't think that'll make the weekend any better, but I know that no matter how stressed he gets, he'll survive.

On my own thesis-front, I've got a rough idea of a defense date - it should be at the end of April. Whether or not I graduate in May will depend on a lot of things, but that's just the ceremony.

Wish us luck.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Dropped off the face of the earth, yet again.


Hub indeed finished his thesis in time. Before vacation. And it's good. He defends in 10 days.

I have been slugging along. My fourth project failed miserably, but I'm confident that I can spin a great story with the three successful ones.

Unfortunately, I had a couple of setbacks since the dental surgery/flu setback. I had Norwalk earlier this week, which was on the heels of something I'll call an illness, and discuss over at the more personal other blog. I've lost weeks of productivity, and will need one of those extensions myself.

Plus, we're moving in a month.

So, it's not great around here at the scienty household, but we're slugging through. I'm hoping that blogging, however briefly, will remove this writers block.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Extensions, anyone?

Hub has received reprieve. Turns out his external can't travel here in December, but January looks good.

This means. . . We won't have to spend every waking moment of this, our wedding anniversary weekend, editing text, formatting figures, printing out lit citations.


We even have the dreaded top cake layer, that was frozen solid the morning after. Our five-tier monstrosity had two kinds of layers - chocolate marble pound cake with grand marnier buttercream, and lemon raspberry pound cake with raspberry buttercream. It's defrosting in my fridge right now, and I'll save you from seeing the sad state those ladybugs are in after a year at sub-zero, and show you how it looked, fresh and sparkly, at our reception.

The ladybugs were my surprise for everyone - my entire family knows I'm a collector, but the wedding color was navy (with gold/yellow/orange accents in my girls' flowers). I don't think anyone expected me - the perfectionist - to include ladybugs at a metropolitan evening wedding, or cocktail and hors d'oeuvres reception. I decided in secret to put my little buggies on the cake, and even on the placecards (which were a STEAL, a last-minute purchase that I never thought I'd find, and cost <10$ for 200)

Adorable, non?

I'll see if I can dig up some more good pics later . . . It's things like this that make grad school worthwhile.

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Small amounts of progress . . .

So, I haven't really written anything of note, considering that the dental surgery that I had on October 2nd was followed up by a bad reaction to the painkillers that they gave me. That wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't caught the flu two days later.

I have been in a fog for over three weeks, and it's horrible.

I've basically switched to being a supportive housewife, because that's pretty much all my brain can handle (that, and sequence analysis, but more on that later). Hubby has to pass his thesis in for mail-out to his examiners in about a week, so I've been cooking, cleaning, making lots of decaffeinated tea, and keeping him away from coffee, because the caffeine brings on panic attacks.

Once he passes the document in, he'll have a month to read/study, and practice his oral presentation (which is already done, and was used as a job talk - so just a little review there).

At that point, he'll have to do the following:

  1. Figure out immigration/visas for me, for when we move in the new year
  2. Find us an apartment for same
  3. Start thinking about packing up this overly stuffed apartment
  4. Cooking, cleaning, making decaffeinated tea, etc.
  5. Nagging the $#!# out of me, so that I write my $#@&!*% thesis.

I will then be free to:

  1. Write my thesis
  2. Make figures for same
  3. Write my thesis
  4. Edit my thesis
  5. Write whatever else is left, and pass the damn thing in.

He managed to get the bulk of his done in about four weeks, so I should be able to take the seven weeks I have before we leave and get it all (mostly) finished.

I'm now looking at a late February defense, which means flying back here for it, but that's OK.

So, yeah, other than sitting around trying to remember how to write my name, I've managed to do some mindless sequence analysis, along with some literature searching for the in silico project. Not completely unproductive, but it was probably about five days worth of work, spread out over three-ish weeks.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Never work on your dedication page when you're sleep-deprived and emotional. Trust me.

So, I haven't met any of my personally set deadlines. But, really, is that surprising?

I threw myself back into this in silico project that happens to be going really well, and I have a collaborator that will make it a little bit easier. But, she's been bogged down with a couple of her own deadlines, and is now off on vacation while the weather is still somewhat cooperative. The timing is really not too bad, since I expect to be miserable next week after they rip four molars from my jaw, and I don't have to worry about meeting with her until after I recover. But, it means that this week should be spent on something different.

Like writing.

I HATE writing. It makes me feel somewhat stupid, especially when I'm plagued by writer's block. So I decided to go back over my dedication and acknowledgements pages, which I'd started several months ago.

DAMN, I'm a good writer when it comes to the sappy crappy.

So, I'm sitting here, buzzed out on a pot of coffee, sobbing over my laptop.

Maybe I should just re-type the thoughts I had from my prelim. They're my thoughts, after all. I was going to just cut/paste, but if I type them in again, I can a) re-word more scientifically and b) feel more productive.

Did I mention that I HATE writing?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Bills Bills Bills

Is this what it means to be a grown-up? Discovering that dental coverage isn't cheap?

I have one more bill to pay, out of three - One check-up and cleaning (including X-rays), and two visits for fillings. Total: >$700.

And, here's the best part: my teeth still hurt from Monday's fillings and assorted manipulations (Wedge? What the heck is a wedge, and why do you need to use it on my molars?!?) Right now I feel like I did as a teenager, after my braces were tightened - the whole right side of my head has been throbbing for two days.

So, the pain goes on and on. And, better than the best part - I have to get my wisdom teeth extracted in 2 weeks.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaah haahaaaaaaah.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I don't know how it happened, but. . .

I think I found 5th gear.

I only hit it for about an hour, late yesterday afternoon, but it's still there, and it would seem still accessible.

I've set myself up here at home to write again, just like last year's prelim essay. The only problem is that there's TV here, as well as a fully stocked fridge. I've yet to turn the TV on today, but I'm about to succumb to the force drawing me to the kitchen, if only to make tea.

I'm aiming for one more full, single-spaced page today.... we'll see if it happens.

ETA: Little bro is settled, and having a blast. Today is his first day of classes, though; that'll be telling ;-)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Little brother's adventure is beginning today - we packed him into a van this morning and sent him halfway across the country for grad school.

So, I'm the only sibling left, when we've been here for 10 years. I have hub, and he's a Godsend. If he weren't here, I'd be holed up with chocolate and reality TV all day.

But, it still doesn't make it any easier. This time, it's a bit harder than when our older brother left. Little bro is the baby of the family, and we're finding it hard to let him go. I know we'll survive, but it still sucks.

The (sort of) good news is that hub and I are going to visit his mother to deal with some house stuff. It gives me something to concentrate on.

boo. :-(

Monday, August 14, 2006


I have to have them. No one ever gives them to me, and so I never set them for myself.

Which gets me into trouble. Every. Single. Time.

I need to get an introduction written. There's no getting around it. But, I told Hub this morning that I should've been an enzymologist (Warning! Geek joke follows). The activation energy required to get me actually, truly, honestly started is so huge, and gets worse every time, that I'm nearly paralyzed.

My brother's advice was concise - Concentrate. Eat. Sleep. Write. I just don't know if I have the energy to pull into 5th gear again.

I will have an intro written by Friday. It doesn't have to be perfect. Hell, it doesn't even have to be any good at this point. It just has to be written.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A knitting blog...

So, I'm thinking I should separate my knitting from my writing, and my writing from my knitting...

I've created ScientKnits, and we'll see how it evolves.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I spent a blissful three-plus days doing nothing work-related. I made three baby hats for the various offspring that are springing up all over the place, along with getting a huge chunk of the blanket done. We took the bus, and got stuck in traffic, so the five hours of daylight were put to good use.

I also got a bit of luxury for my tiny, but growing, stash... I'll take photos of it, and the hats, later.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Yay for 72 hour vacations :-)


We've decided to take the weekend off and go to visit my parents!

The ironic thing is, we're going to get away from the pressure, but it's the pressure that's forcing us to go this weekend since there are no others available.

My little brother is moving to go to grad school in a couple of weeks, so there's going to be some frantic packing and sorting. His new place is furnished, so some of the family pieces he has now have to be returned to the homestead, and since they're leaving before the end of the month so the superintendent can tile and paint, we need to get the cleaning done ASAP.

The kicker is, as my parents are driving him halfway across the country, I'll be driving with hubby to his mom's place, because she's thinking of selling soon, and we have to take care of that too. We'll meet my parents in hubby's hometown, and drive back together.

I *do* have deadlines looming, but I'm sufficiently close to exhaustion that I'm not caring much at the moment. I told my lab manager that we'd be away, since she's also doing some tech work on my last project, and she gets to take a 4-day weekend to spend with her kids and husband. It was kind of funny - I told her that we needed the break, since we hadn't taken one since Christmas, and she said something to the effect of, "Yeah, if you don't mind my saying, you do look a bit tired." From anyone else that would be code for, "You look like shit." I know her too well, though; I could tell that she's been concerned about me burning out lately.

That's why as much as I need a change of scenery and a new lab and some new challenges, I'll really miss some of the people here. They're not just co-workers; they're family.

So, I'm off to think peaceful, calming thoughts so that the rest of the week, along with the weekend, is restful and productive. My peaceful place is actually back where we honeymooned; it's so beautiful and serene that it makes my blood pressure drop whenever I think of it:

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

Monday, July 31, 2006

Is this art? Or just plain weird?

(Yay photos!)

So, I needed more counter space when cooking dinner last night, so I started moving things around a bit.

All the fruit that could fit in the basket was there already, and I had this one melon left. I couldn't figure out where to put it (I have a problem with putting stuff on the stove while I'm cooking, even if only one element is on), so I shoved it in the only place it would fit.

The coffeemaker.

I may be strange, but this made me smile. Just a little bit.

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

So this is what everyone means when they say their photos won't load . . .

I had started a post last night, but was waiting for my camera to recharge so I could download some pictures. The pics are on my harddrive now, but I can't seem to upload them...

Hope it's not an omen for the week...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

argh . . .

This weekend has been productive on the home level (dishes, laundry, knitting, etc.) but not so much on the work level.

Hub has been at the bench all day, and was all day yesterday too... so that's making me feel a teensy bit guilty... so guilty, in fact, that I can't tell whether I have a migraine or a stress-headache... or a stress-induced migraine... they're all different, and my head hurts too much to try and differentiate.

But, I feel productive on the baby blanket front. I've changed to my fourth ball of yarn, and I'm a convert - once you get the hang of continental knitting, it flows amazingly fast. Baby is due on Wednesday at noon my time (they're three hours behind, so it'll be 9AM for them), and everyone's feeling good so far. She may well get the blanket before the christening ;-)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Well . . .

. . . Pepsi and cake a good lunch do not make.

Ehn. I hurt now.

But, I just found out that I will indeed get my stipend paid in September. There's always a period of uncertainty when one switches funding sources that it just might run out. But I'm good.

Which is fortunate, considering I just ordered some Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock(tm) on my credit card, and it's not even close to cheap. It's awfully pretty, though ;-)


The meeting. Good and bad. As per usual.

I will get out of here by Christmas.

I will get out of here by Christmas.

Monday, July 24, 2006

How much fun are last minute meetings?

I mean, really.

"Tomorrow. 10am. We'll talk."

I just passed in a thesis outline last week, and we're heading into vacation season for most people, so I guess it's not that surprising.

But, of course, it's always with the palpitations ;-)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I finally got the camera out . . .

. . . but, as per usual, it was the wrong time of day. So, my lighting is all off. But, it's the baby blanket, finally, and I just found out yesterday that I have 15 days to finish it. Peanut is now a scheduled C-section (thank heavens; Peanut's older brothers didn't enter civilization easily), but her brothers got their quilts when they were 2 months old, so perhaps it won't be so bad.

In any case, on to the progress:

Here's a close-up of the hourglass pattern that makes up the body of the blanket . . .

here's the seed-stitch border . . .

. . . and this is the whole thing, folded up on my coffee table.

I figure I'll get it to her by October... just in time for chilly weather. Oh, and it's a Lionbrand free pattern. Very cool.

And, just because it's pretty - here's my latest floral acquisition. My younger brother, who knows I love lilies, bought these off the little guy who sells (typically) roses downtown to men on first dates who are trying to impress. Isn't he impressive? ;-)

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Viva l'Italia!

Well, sort of.

We had a World Cup Final party this weekend, and it was the first time I'd actually watched a televised soccer game... The first time I'd actually watched any form of soccer since the age of 13, when we used to go to see the cute highschool boys play....

But, here's the rub - I used it as an excuse to bake! Two batches of filled cupcakes (chocolate with hazelnut-cocoa filling, and vanilla with lemon curd filling), decorated with team flags (and happy faces for the kiddos):

Third place, and in honour of the nationality of our hosts:

Second place:

And, the winners!
I must say, the game was rather exciting, particularly at the beginning. Rather like hockey, I think; lots of handling, minimal scoring (as opposed to basketball, for example). It's difficult to watch, though, with five children ranging in age from 18 months to 3.5 years, running around the room. The added sugar from the cupcakes probably didn't help, either!

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The turn of a heel . . .

Well, still no pictures, but I really do need to take some.

I turned the heel on my first grown-up sized sock yesterday, and it seems to have worked. This whole magic-loop thing is the business - you never have to worry about dropping needles or poking anyone; I even used the loop to hold my instep stitches, even though some people think that's a pain in the heinie.

I've made the decision that as soon as I finish sock #1, I'll go back to the baby blanket, and finish that before embarking on sock #2. I'm not looking forward to it, though, because the weather is so humid here. A tiny sock that stays suspended from the needle is so much more comfortable than a large, fuzzy, non-breathing acrylic blend.

Work-wise, the stats are coming along nicely. The problem with today is that there are too many meetings and seminars that I have to go to. I'm really going to have to bust my butt this weekend, I think.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Slacker Monday?

No pics yet today, although it's been an eventful few days.

I mustmustmust remember to take one of the baby blanket to post; it'll force me to work on it some more. I've managed to start turning the heel on my very first grown-up sock, and it's not too bad. All the calculating is getting annoying, since it's a generic sock pattern that is somewhat DIY, but I'm determined that it'll work.

We had a great, albeit unproductive, weekend, both knitting and otherwise. Hub's labmate is from overseas, and her friends visit every year or so - this weekend happens to be 2006's event. We went to a dinner party at her place, which was lovely. Good food, good conversation, good wine.

The problem was, too much wine led to a dinner party that was longer than most of my workdays, and we walked home in the rain as the sun came up.

I guess it's not a problem, so much as an accomplishment - I'm convinced that I'm too old for that sort of stuff ;-)

Friday, June 16, 2006

It's slacker Friday...

... and I'm totally OK with that.

Without going into gory (geeky?) details, I've been more productive in the past week than I think I've been since last September in the mad rush of Prelim time.

I've managed to get a (homemade) program working to do some major stats analyses, albeit on hub's PC, but I also have a co-worker compiling it for the Mac.

(No, I don't know what that means. I don't know why it was written in Pascal versus Fortran, and I don't know why I'm bothering with the cross-computing. It'll save me about 15 minutes after I complete about 50 separate analyses. But, that's OK.)

So, I shall post on my latest creative efforts, since this seems to be less about grad school and more about hobbies. But, then again, hobbies and life outside the lab are, indeed, how we survive grad school without going nuts :-)

Firstly, the famous baby-cheesecake. Here's a rough progression:

I call it - "Bare Canvas"

Outline completed (note the ever-so-carefully placed piping bag)

Yes, folks, that's a baby. Mutant, but a baby nonetheless.

Baby has some color in his cheeks!

The pink and blue frosting were added because I took the cake off the bottom of the springform pan... As a result, that sucker slipped and slid whenever I so much as nudged the plate.
Solution: more sugar!

And, since the rest of the plate was rather bare, and I had about a cup of spare chocolate ganache, I whipped it up and decorated the border with some rosettes. Because, who's going to complain with more chocolate, right?

I was also a really bad girl two weeks ago, and went to a newly discovered, but long existing, yarn store.

(There is a huge portion of this city that I haven't explored, even though I've been here for 10 years. It's only when I'm looking for new slacker activities that I manage to find these gems).

The problem I was having was that a certain big box store had the most awful yarn selection, and a new little boutique that opened close to school is too expensive, and had even less selection than the big box (really nice mohair and other exotics, but nothing really practical).

This new(ly found) little gem is comparable to two local stores in my home town - tonnes of cubbies, floor to ceiling, lots of options, all the colors you'd want, and just enough luxury yarns and fibres to keep you sighing every now and then.

Hubby came in, and I'm sure chuckled the whole 30 minutes we were in there, as I fondled the potential projects. I was horribly good while being bad, though. I wanted to buy yarn for socks for him, and yarn for socks for myself, and yarn for socks for my mom... but my purchases can be fit into this one tiny pic:

The light is really glaring, because in reality it's a nice glen check brown/grey/tan/dark grey twist. At the moment the sock is about 6" long, not the 2" in the photo, and I'm trying to decide if it's time to divide for the heel. I know that my ribbing on the top sucks, and I don't know why, but hub is OK with having a 'rusticly homemade' socks as his first pair.

For the knitting savvy amongst you, yes, I have discovered the magic loop method, and yes, that is a loverly 40" size 3 addi turbo. I am smitten. I am a sock knitter.

I think I'll take a pic of the baby blanket and post it... I should really be working on it, not the socks, but I love the tiny needles and the quick progress.

Progress. Maybe I should go for that with my stats for an hour... then take an extra long lunch in the first real summer day we've had.

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

Friday, June 02, 2006

The beginnings of my next cheesecake...

So we're having another lab party this weekend.

It's a "welcome summer" BBQ... but in reality, it's a secret baby shower. I can say that safely because neither of the expectant mothers has any idea that I blog.

So, I've baked a strawberry cheesecake, since the ones with fruit purée added tend to cook better. This one, I must say, seems fantastic. The surface is perfectly flat, and of even color... which I will be covering up with some sort of baby decoration.

This is what it looks like, undressed...

We'll see how my first foray into cartoon decorating goes.

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

More birthday flowers . . .

Here's what I guess you could call the "yellow and blue" portion of the bouquet, followed by the whole thing . . .

When I think about giving (or getting) flowers as gifts, my logical brain rails against it. They wither in days, and in the end, you can keep a picture if you remember to take one, or possibly press them to include in other crafts, but neither of those things can capture the true beauty. But there's just something about having beautiful fresh flowers in the house that puts me in a good mood.

Hobbies and things . . .

So, my hobby-filled weekend included two things - baking and knitting. Baking is an old standard, and I went for a cheesecake, to bring into work. It was for a birthday, so I tried to be fancy. The white chocolate was supposed to be colored yellow, but isn't quite dark enough. The raspberry sauce tasted like paste. But, it looks darn good!

Knitting is my second hobby, and is a relatively new one. I had been sewing baby quilts for my friend's first two kiddos, but since I'm trying to finish up, and don't have constant access to a sewing machine, knitting is much easier. And, I'm finding out, if you use US11 needles, goes much quicker. The latest project for the latest kiddo isn't pictured here, though, in case she manages to find my blog!

Another reason I'm taking it up is that hub likes wool socks in the winter. His elderly aunt used to supply them, but her eyesight is beginning to fail, so I have to take up the needles. I've been trying to figure out how to turn a heel for about a year now, but never really tried to do it in earnest until Monday night, since I found a tiny training sock pattern. My brother thinks it's because I've managed to get preggers already, but I *swear* it's not; I don't want to defend my thesis with baby-brain.

I do, however, want to knit socks. They're useful (like baby blankets), less likely to turn out hideously like sweaters sometimes do, and take less time than big garments.

So, behold the first mini-socklet!

There isn't a ruler there (should've thought of that - I'm a scientist!) but it's a little less than 3", toe to heel.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Birthday flowers

I just had my first birthday as a married woman... and it was comforting. My darling husband cooked a gourmet dinner, and I spent the weekend working on hobbies rather than my thesis, as my gift to myself.

And, yes, it was divine... both the dinner and the hobbies.

Hub got me a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and it was the strangest combination of all colors and styles... here's a photo of the 'pink' portion.

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


scientific proof...

I am nerdier than 68% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

climbing . . . up . . . out of this . . . dungeon . . .


So much for regular posting.

I did, however, wear the shoes, and the rest of the clothing that was bought with them. They were for a trip... for a job... that I'm still crossing my fingers about.

I haven't got any pictures of them, but I did take a couple while waiting for the airport shuttle to take me back home. Bonus points if anyone can figure out the town just by the snippet of building.

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

Friday, February 24, 2006


. . .

Self-Pity Post.


I'm completely unfocussed at work today... although I guess it's rather silly to spend time blogging instead of wrestling my brain back to the task(s) at hand.

Oh, well. It's frigging Friday. Who the heck cares how productive I am?

Hubby is off at an office lunch, and both brothers are away (of course) so there isn't even anyone to harass by IM. Staring down the barrel of some excellent, interruption-free work time, aren't I?

The only good thing that came out of today is that my iPod, which I thought was going to kick the bucket, just needed a re-start. I got it for practically nothing as a package deal (it's a discontinued model) but I don't think I've gotten my money's worth out of it yet, and besides - who wants to pay for a replacement when the original was free (and I'd never buy one full price anyway)?

Thursday, February 23, 2006


. . . Self-Pity Shopping


Pardon the quality of the photo, but the shoes are part of my theraputic purchases.

I also got a pair of trousers, a tweed jacket, a sweater and a blouse.

Oh, and some ice cream.

You'd think I was a grade schooler, whose best friend just moved away . . .


This sucks.

I really feel like I did in the 8th grade when my best friend moved away. Back then, I didn't know if I'd ever see her again (which I did, and we're still very close).

This is different - he's my brother, and we'll probably see each other in less than 4 months (and we have the internet now, which we didn't in the 8th grade), but it still sucks.

It'll get better.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

There it is. I wonder why that didn't work last time....

This is a chickadee outside of my M-I-L's house, taken by hubby on a particularly cold day. The birds are all very tame, and have come to depend on her feeding them. Even when it's -40º, they wait for their birdseed.

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

OK. So I feel slightly better now.

After a good cry, and a couple of hours of sleep, I do feel somewhat more like myself.

It's still going to be crappy, but my logical brain keeps telling me that it's really not going to be an impossible adjustment.

So, I will surround myself with hubby, and lots of pretty things... shopping tomorrow to take my mind off of it, and I'll look at some of the photos that came out of my Christmas travels... they don't seem to want to post, but I'll try.

Life is what happens when you're off making other plans . . .

So life did get out of hand... like I expected it would. Maybe I should be making a more concerted effort to write a bit every day or so. Maybe that would help me deal with everything.

To re-cap the last, oh, two months:

Christmas, well, Christmas sucked. I went to the M-I-L's, and it didn't go well. Suffice it to say it wasn't as warm a welcome as I'd expected, and we spent the whole time dealing with problems - problems with the house, problems with the weather, problems with medication (not mine, or hubby's . . .) . . . so I postponed the whole holiday. Christmas happened for me on December 28th, when hub and I arrived at my parent's place.

And it was good.

Now, I'm trying to focus. Work is no different than before - I struggle with projects that are supposed to be working, but it seems like I've lost the Midas touch.

The problem that immediately faces me now, when I should long be asleep, is how to focus and get that back, with major changes staring me down. You see, my older brother is moving away on Thursday.

So what, you think. Big deal. Well, the thing is, we started our college education together, since we're really close in age. We've both been doing this grad school thing for around 6-7 years. In the same building - our labs are only a floor apart.

Plus, we're a really close family (hence the crappy Christmas, being away from my parents, my Nana, and my brothers). They're all such an important part of me, and I've been fortunate enough to go to the same school as both of my brothers - older bro and I started together in 1996, and the other one moved up to the city in 2002.

Older bro has been there with me since the first calculus exam, through countless nights in the lab, through family crises that we had to handle over the phone with the other half of the family that's still at "home" (even though we've been in our present location for 10 years, it's not "home").

I'm scared of writing up my thesis without him down the hall to listen to my griping.

I know there's email, and free VOIP (or whatever the kids are using these days), and great long distance plans. But it's not the same. My best friend in junior high moved away shortly before my 16th birthday, and this feels worse than that.

And I feel horrible, since hubby is watching me struggle with this, and he has no siblings (and has never really encountered siblings who are as close as my brothers and I are). I feel so awful that he's feeling so helpless watching me cry.

Silly, really. People live on different continents and remain best friends. My friend that moved away in junior high - she now lives on the other end of the continent, and we're just as close. I know it'll be OK. To think otherwise would be illogical.

But I just don't know yet how to make it OK.


Friday, December 02, 2005

The first major decision of married life, the reaction, and the aftermath


Considering the time of the year, what sort of major decision could there be, breathing down my neck since I got engaged?

Where to spend the Christmas holidays.

:'-( waaaaaaah haaaaaaaaaaaaaa

You see, M-I-L is 8 hours in one direction (and doesn't travel much - we've seen her three times in the past 2 years) while my family is 4.5 hours in the other direction, and they travel a lot - see my dad once a week, and mom probably once every 3 months.

After lots of talking (and knowing the answer practically before we started), we've decided to spend 5 days around Christmas Day with M-I-L, and 5 days around New Years with my family.

Fair? Yes.

The hardest thing I'll ever have done up until this point in my life? Definitely.

You see, Christmas and its assorted festivities are very important in my family... I even used to joke with my dad that someday I'd meet a man who was just as close with his parents that my dad might have to give me up for the Christmas holiday.

The only easy part was that Dad agreed it would be better to go West for Christmas, since M-I-L lives alone, and this will likely be her last Christmas in the house before moving to an apartment. So, no fights from either family on the choice we made.

I can't think about it without crying.

I've never been away from home at Christmas. And hubby knows that all that truly matters is that I'm with him, and he's with me.

But... in the immortal words of my mother, quoted 48 hours ago:

This sucks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I've been away nearly 40 days . . .

. . . but just away from posting . . .

I'm back . . . and I'm . . .


I wish I'd taken the time to put down a few thoughts each day, because it happened as everyone said it would - way too fast.

But, I can honestly say that everything went absolutely to plan. I'm a born organizer when I want to be ;-)

Some things are the same, lots of things are different, but so far, so good. Although I never realized how strange it would be to actually move in with someone. Do I regret not moving in earlier? No, not really. It is truly a transition, but one I'm happy to make.



Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Why am I so frantic today?

Could it be the coffee? Could it be the impending trip for fiancé's job interview? Could it be the XL coffees I've been sucking down?


It's weird. I got the book chapter in, it's finished, we're just waiting for the editor to approve. It looks great, and I don't have to worry about it anymore. I really don't have to worry about anything this week here at work.

It's the other details that will drive me off the edge. Confirm the church. Confirm the flowers. Confirm the cake. Choose the food. Set out the seating plan. Book a practice hair appointment. Figure out when I'm going to make 15o wedding favours.

And, most importantly, take the time to realize what's going on.

I'm getting married in 25 days.

*breathe in*

*breathe out*

*breathe in*

*breathe out*

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Ooh, I forgot the best part!

I'm baking mini-cheesecakes tomorrow for a Thanksgiving dinner. In new mini springform pans.

(I am so simple-minded sometimes)


Past midnight, it's Saturday, and I'm still here . . .

But, it's all worth it...

I didn't get home until 2:30 last night, and it took about a full hour for the cola to work its way out of my system. So, 4 hours of sleep, and back to work I go.

Tonight, I'm still here. I'd like to think I'll be heading home in an hour, but I'm not exactly sure. But, it's all worth it.

The boss likes the analysis, and resulting figure (It has everything but the numbers right now). A good analysis that I can include in my thesis.

I did something right the first time for a change!!!

Hoorah for me!

But, of course, I should be working, not blogging . . .

Friday, October 07, 2005

It's technically early Friday morning, and I'm still at work.

So. This book chapter thing.

It turned into a bit of a meta-analysis/database summary thing. At 36 hours before my deadline. And I have 7750 bits of data to amass, which take a minimum of 3 (more like 6) seconds each. That, after some magical calculations, works out to somewhere around 14 hours of straight work. Which I didn't figure out I needed to do until 11PM tonight.

So, it's not humanly possible to do it the way I wanted.

Which means, summarizing the summary.

And, lo, I'm still at work at 2AM.

(and it must be quite obvious that my brain went to bed about 2 hours ago).

So, I shall sign off for 4 hours of sleep (-ish) and then back in. I'll likely collapse tomorrow at supper, but whether I can afford to do that remains to be seen.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Sick, but on the mend.

I feel much better tonight, and I'm eating normally again. This morning I could barely stomach cereal, which didn't make for a very productive brain throughout the day. Not that supper made my brain any more in tune with work, unfortunately.

I'm trying to figure out just what I'm thinking about the next few weeks that lie ahead. I know I have work to do (and it's rather looming, even though I don't have a definite deadline for any of it), but work seems unimportant.

I'm getting married in a month.

That fact is becoming more and more real every single hour of every single day. It's scary and exciting and strange and totally insane.

And I don't really have the time to ponder it this week :-(

Maybe I'm sick in mind, if not body...

Perchance not lazy, but sick?

I've been pretty much out of commission since last Thursday.

The really irritating thing is that it isn't with any normal, identifiable malady.

It goes from headaches to stomachaches to muscle aches back to abdominal pain :-( It even woke me up this morning at 6:30... when I intended to sleep until 7:10... grrrrr.

Fiancé thinks it may be stress because of this other paper, but the prelim was so much more crucial to my degree, and I felt nothing. My mother thinks it may just be susceptibility to random bugs, because of all the stress the past few weeks.

I don't know what to think.

I'm giving myself another 24 hours, and then I'll think about going to the doctor. I just can't afford to be sick until the end of November. *sigh*

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I am a lazy bugger

I guess this is the first official post being made from the new powerbook... as I sit here and watch my iPod charge, which is not terribly exciting.

I've been neglectful of pretty much everything since last Friday... the only significant thing I've done is catch up on laundry.

I still have this book chapter thing to do, and I'm hoping (praying) that I can at least have a draft by the end of the weekend. I'm too distracted by this new toy - trying to install all the necessary software for work and analysis (even though I probably won't use those programs for at least another month or two). Strange the things we use to procrastinate.

I'm also trying to get up the guts to email this other potential post-doctoral supervisor... I emailed him during the summer just to see if he would bite, but I didn't even get a "no thank-you" email back. We're figuring (optimistically) that my email got tagged as spam because I attached my CV, so I'm going to email him again, sans attachments, and see if I at least get a response. If it's a 'no', or there's no answer, I'm going to have to think about finding someone else, but his lab looks really interesting, and really fun.

argh. do these stressors never end?

Sunday, September 25, 2005


I went out to dinner on Friday night to celebrate, and nearly fell asleep in my fettucine. The strange thing was, I woke up on Saturday morning at 6:45 anyway (I did go back to bed, of course). Yesterday was spent shopping, spending some of the money from the wedding shower, and getting a suit and another outfit that should do for any interviews as well as the PhD defense (which I'm trying not to think about).

This morning, I slept in again, and then gathered up fiancé to go to the market. I noticed the blue sky and green trees and crisp wind for the first time in weeks. I realized I'd been completely ignoring everything else around me, and that really makes me sad.

Time is passing, and it's passing quickly. It's only 41 days until the wedding and I need to stop and pay attention.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Although I'm still reeling, I think it's over ;-)

I'll receive official comments next week, probably, but in general it was a comfortable question/answer session. The talk was excellent if I do say so myself.

So, onward, Tequila!

1.5 hours to go . . .

Fiancé told me that there's not enough time to accomplish anything, and so I shouldn't even try to read anything in the next hour and a half... it'll freak me out...

Too frikking late for that, now, isn't it...


So here I sit, surfing the web for distraction...

and trying not to jump out of my skin :-P

Three hours to go . . .

. . . and if you'll pardon the vernacular, I don't know whether to crap or wind my watch.


I went through my talk again; last night it took 25 minutes, this morning it took 20'36". Which is good.

But, then, the boss came and asked me (and another student in the lab) to help him write a book chapter.

(for the uninitiated, that's a "really good thing" to have on your record)

Problem is, it's due in 2 weeks. But, of course, I agreed to it, because it's good to put on the resumé.

Oh, does the madness ever end???

got up 30 minutes ago

and i've just been surfing the net... i should be getting ready, but i'm tired, and freaked out....

i'll let you know how it goes . . .

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Congratulations! It's a bouncing baby...


Hopefully I won't bounce it! It's at home, alone and sad, because I don't have time to set it up before this exam. Fiancé made me leave it there, and come back to work to study.

But, it's here :-)

(and so is the iPod. which is just as cool)

i *think* my laptop is in

One of my labmates took a cryptic phone message the other day... he said that the computer centre called and said my iPod is in. But, the iPod was always in stock; it was the laptop that we were waiting for.

So, I'm going to assume that the laptop is in, and go down for a break to pick it up.

Cross your fingers...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Burgers make everything better...

So, my brother (who is also in grad school) took me out for supper, for the one thing that sets the world right - treat burgers.

Treat burgers are usually the signature burger from a well-known chain that I won't mention, except to say that I'm lovin it. They're a treat, because we usually eat extraordinarily healthy, and they help us through writing and exams and other horrible necessities. Lately I've been on a one-per-six-months basis, and hopefully it won't increase in frequency.

So, I now feel like Booger does in this photo... but I'm sure my stomach will hate me later.

(all images copyright E. Boudreau)

The mood, according to Booger.

I'm realizing that I captured a range of emotions when I took a bunch of snaps of the cat.

I've just gone over slides with the boss. On the whole, I think it was OK... but there are a handful that I need to change, and I guess I'm not impressed... probably with myself.

I'm not feeling in the best of moods, but I don't quite know how to express it.

Booger seems to have captured it perfectly. It's the "Get the hell away from me if you know what's good for you" face.

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

I thought I posted late last night, but maybe I was dreaming.

... although I didn't think I was overly tired.

I even stayed up to watch Law and Order, because I was feeling pretty good about everything...

Oh, well.

I have this picture that captures how I'm feeling right now... courtesy of my darling puddy tat. He lives with my mother, and his name is Booger (she says his name is something else that I've long since forgotten; he only answers to Booger.)

So, the slides are almost done. I'm still trying to figure out how/when I'm going to find the time to read through my background information in a weak attempt to study for this thing. Although, I'm thinking that if I don't know something by now, frantic cramming isn't really going to help anyway.

Hmmmm. Maybe I'll follow the example of a fellow grad student I met yesterday on the way from the grocery store. She's hoping to defend by Christmas, and so she's feeling the same as me (or, likely worse). She left work for an hour, and had a sundae and a cigarette. She doesn't usually have either unless she's stressed, and felt guilty at being caught.

I told her we all deserve our little vices....

(all images copyright E. Boudreau)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I am so tired....

Everyone has a copy of the essay now, including the boss. And I've gotten little to nothing done on the presentation.

I just wish it was over.

Last night I was feeling really good about everything. I went over the whole thing in my mind, and thought about what they were likely to ask me... I was smart in my own head... But this morning, I'm starting to think of the million things I didn't put in the essay, and the things I hadn't thought of to put in the talk.

I'll spin myself in circles before the week is out, I'm sure.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Reports are passed in.

There were a couple of nice surprises:

(1) There isn't a separate chair of the meeting/exam, which means one less pair of eyes staring me down.

(2) The room is just downstairs from my lab, rather than in a stuffy building on the upper campus, which means familiar territory.

(3) The grad secretary at the department commented on how it looked like one of the longest essays she's seen for a prelim exam, implying that I put lots of effort which should work in my favour.

And now, for real this time, sleep.

I *think* all the figures are done.

edits to progress report to incorporate

then, final print.

oh. my. lordie.

Down to the wire.


because of the coffee, I've had a grand total of 2 hours sleep.

time to write figure captions, check edits, print out, and go down to the other end of campus to pass this thing in.

T-minus 8 hours . . .

gave up the ghost, relatively early in the night.

no energy for caps.

essay is done.

progress report is 90% done.

figures are drawn, still need captions.

all will be completed and printed out, starting tomorrow morning at approximately 7:45-8:00am.

and now, i sleep.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

And it begins... this time for real...

It's nine-o-something, and here we go.

one figure printed, needs some tweaking.

one section left to write, and edit.

appendices, references, title page.

I'm here all night folks, hope you stick around.

Tomorrow is doomsday #1

I have to pass in the report and the research progress update tomorrow. They'll be done by the end of the day, but I should probably have them in before noon.

Which means tonight'll be a late night. Boo.

I'm having good days and bad days... or should I say good hours and bad hours? It's the weirdest thing. I can be going along well, and all of a sudden some random thought makes me feel like I don't know anything.

In any case, it'll be over in 5 days. I hope.

Friday, September 16, 2005

My cheesecake...

I finally brought the camera cord into work this morning, so here is the masterpiece... Piña Colada Cheesecake à la me. Top: pre-decoration; Bottom: post-decoration, with pineapple, whipped cream, and flaked coconut. yummmmmmm...

Unfortunately, there's none left to snack on while putting in these edits :-(

(all images copyright E. Boudreau)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Back from the second meeting. . .

And it wasn't too bad.

The only potential issue is the timing of this preliminary exam in relation to my thesis defense. They're supposed to be at least one year apart, but at the rate I'm going (or want to go, at least) they'll be about 8 months apart.

So, the boss has to write a letter to the Graduate Studies Department explaining why this happened, and why they should bend the rule for me.

My department chair, with whom I had the meeting, has done this twice in the past 2 years for his own students, so I can't see how it'll be a problem, but he had such a doomsday look on his face that I can't help but feel a bit nervous.

Oh, well. One more thing to think about this fall...

I got Punk'd


I baked my beautiful cheesecake for a lab party - our technician had a housewarming party last night at her new place.

We were all excited about it - her house is out in the country, on a beautiful piece of land, and is a really great piece of architecture. Everyone seemed so keen to go, and she seemed so keen to make sure everyone had a ride out (to the point where she actually found a ride for me and fiancé before I had a chance to ask around).

It wasn't a housewarming party.

It was a surprise wedding shower for us, and another labmate who's also getting married three weeks from now.

Fiancé was totally surprised... I got a little suspicious when the driver's cellphone rang, and it was the other couple calling for directions, and when she hung up the phone she muttered, "He'd better not get lost!" It's hilarious simply because I'm usually involved in the secret party planning, but since I've been working from home, they sent one double email (message #1 = housewarming party; message #2 = secret wedding shower, sent to everyone but us) and took a collection and got us gift certificates to our registry.

They put up balloons and streamers, and it was a huge potluck dinner. The house was gorgeous, and our tech has two big friendly dogs that everyone just adores. Plus, there were about a half dozen babies/toddlers to cuddle, which is always good therapy for me.

I love my lab.

(forgot the camera cable again; will post photos after lunch, or tomorrow morning)


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

My splendiferous cheesecake

Success. An evening of doing nothing work related, and I ended up with what looks like a perfect cheesecake. But, I forgot my USB connector, so I can't post the photos yet :-(

Worked a little more on my slides last night, not at all on the report. But, my dad was in town, so we had coffee, which was nice.

(yay for rationalizing)

OK. I have to transfer some diagrams to fiancé's laptop so I can work some more this afternoon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Comments from the boss

Instant heart attack = my draft, red-penned, in my mailbox this morning.


Instant heart attack relief = the first comment I read began with, "I think this is quite good..." and it wasn't followed up by a "... but you need to change the whole thing".

YAY for me! Now, I just have to worry about the 20 minute talk.

I've decided that I'm going to write the presentation on my fiancé's laptop. You see, if I haven't explained it before, we have a rift in our household.

He's a PC person, I'm a Mac person. I know; the marriage is doomed.

I've been writing this whole time on a PC, and made a few presentation slides last night on the PC, and it wasn't too bad. Since it's still more comfortable to write from home, I'd like to do the presentation there too. The good news is that it's much easier to take Mac figures and files and transfer them over to a PC than the other way around.

(that's because Macs are more user-friendly, and just better, IMHO)

So, off I go this afternoon to continue on this talk. If I'm feeling brave, I might even read through the comments and implement them, instead of freaking and waiting until Saturday night.

Oh, and I think I'll bake a cheesecake for tonight's procrastination event. If it looks good, I might even post a photo ;-)

Complete distraction

Today, as a procrastinatory measure, I'm going to learn how to post photos.

We have a Victorian garden here in the city, and my new digital camera is the reason I took off every lunch hour instead of working. But, how can you complain about life when there are such beautiful things across the street? And who could resist that cute face?

(All images Copyright E. Boudreau)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Ok. I *think* the committee is whole again

My replacement has agreed, in theory. But today he's in the process of writing a grant that's due today or tomorrow, so all I could do was hand him the information sheet, and duck & cover.

I have 20 pages, double spaced, as of this morning. It's rough. I'll give it to the boss in 20 minutes, and run away.

On a happier note, I've just placed the order for my new laptop. I actually got my lab manager to do it - the computer supplier here at school gives great deals to students and faculty, and she has a way of getting things done quickly. I should see it on my desk in less than two weeks.

. . .

11 days to create a presentation, 35 days until we leave for the States for a job interview, 54 days until the wedding.

Sad how my life is reduced to numbers.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Crisis abounds.

In the process of solidifying a date for this exam, it all went to pot.

And, I have no real reason to be upset about it.

One of my committee members is on sabbatical this year, so technically he is excused from all teaching and committee responsibilities. But, he'd agreed to do this exam anyway, because he was supposed to be in town. The problem is, he's now scheduled to fly out the evening of the exam, and that's not the least of it. He's just gone through a terrible family tragedy, and really needs to get away. Now that I know everything, I don't want to put even five minutes of work onto his already overloaded plate, and I am praying for him and his family.

But, that leaves me one committee member short. And, that doesn't count the one that's MIA, who was supposed to arrive back in town a week ago but is nowhere to be found.

My idea for a replacement would be perfect, but he's also overcommitted himself this fall. He'd do it in a heartbeat if it was just questioning me for an hour, but he doesn't know if he has the time to critically evaluate a 20 page report, considering most of my department is going to a conference from the 15th to the 19th of September (and would have to spend all their time upon arrival home on my report and exam).

So, it's entirely possible that this thing could fall through the tubes... and get pushed back until December... which I'm not sure will be useful. I can't even let my brain consider that possibility or I'll probably shut down completely.

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war!

I now have 6 2/3 single-spaced pages now, or 13 1/3 double-spaced. No figures, no headings, no TOC. Severe editing required on the first 2 pages or so.

So much for getting clean laundry this weekend. Boo.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

6 pages, a *second* meeting, and a whole lotta panic

So, I had a burst of productivity at home yesterday, and realized that I cannot work at the office. I wrote almost an entire page at home, but couldn't get two words down at the office.

Not that this migraine helps ;-)

So, I'm going home again this afternoon to try to get another page. I absolutely must have a draft on Monday to give to the boss, because he'll then have about 3 days to edit it amongst the other million things he has to do, before he leaves for conference again.

On top of that - 8 weeks until the wedding.

This timing really sucks.

And, the second meeting... I have to visit the chair of the department, and explain how wonderful the past year has been, and why my timing sucks, and what's on the plate for the next 8 months.

Fun Fun Fun

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bad. Definitely bad.

So, I thought it would be smart to go home for a few days, and recharge the batteries. I figured I was getting so tired that it would be saving downtime in the end to take 3 days completely off, rather than work at less-than-peak capacity for the next three weeks.

Big mistake.

I woke up this morning to an anxiety attack. I'm trying to decide now if (a) I should take fiancé's laptop and try working from home or (b) I should just smack myself in the forehead, shoot 2 double espressos and JUST TYPE.

(I'm not impressed with myself. I seem to have some sort of new-found aversion to doing work AT work. To the point that I'm now researching my own laptop purchase.)

I just don't make sense. Not even in my own head. *sniff*

Friday, September 02, 2005

Home for a rest...

Well, smart idea or not, I've decided to pack up fiancé and go away for the weekend. We're both so tired and stressed out with everything that we're starting to become anti-productive. It'll probably save us time in the long run to take 72 hours off to recharge the batteries, and . . .

whoops, hold on a sec...


Just had a mini-conference with the boss. He's on target for the meeting, which is good. We all have to go through the lab administrator to book time for him. She knows where he's supposed to be, but he never seems to.

Now, it means that I have to have the report finished by September 10th, when he comes back. that gives me another 6 days, once I get back from the weekend recharge.

This could be good, this could be bad. Oh, well ;-)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

5.2 pages!!!

that's 10.4 double-spaced :-) :-)

and a trip to the mall... and some reward-chocolate...

And now, it's time for bed.


OK, so I was a bit optimistic.

(and I fudged a bit)

Yesterday's page count was slightly under 4 single-spaced pages.

So, with some edits, and more writing, and a touch of honesty, I'm now at.....

4.75 single-spaced pages (or 9.5 double-spaced pages, for those of us who suck at math).

Which, for a few days' worth of semi-focussed-ness, ain't too shabby.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Page count update!

4+ single spaced pages. That's nearly 9 double spaced pages.


Monday, August 29, 2005

Only checked my email 4 times today...

You see, this is one of the other things that I'm doing, along with planning a wedding, writing a paper, formulating a thesis in my head, etc etc.

I'm trying to find a post-doc position.

To that end, I emailed someone that I'm interested in working with. Problem is, it's the end of August, and most people are on vacation.

(Vacation. Vacation? What's vacation?)

So, I'm checking my email to see if this person has emailed back, even though the entire lab is probably off somewhere sunny, and not even thinking of email.

Harumph. It's all giving me a headache.

But, on the bright side... dum da da duuummm... page count.

3 single spaced pages, which is 6 double spaced pages.


The beginning of the most productive day ever... and I'm already running late.

I've had breakfast, and one cup of coffee.

Now, I have to tear myself away from my cable TV and internet filled sanctuary and go to my fiance's place. There is no phone, no television, no internet connection.

waaaaah. *sniff*

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A productive weekend...

I had the most productive Saturday I've had in a while yesterday, at least related to school and science. My fiancé gave a platform talk at a conference locally, so I had to get up at 6:30AM to make sure he was awake, prepared, and had his computer and presentation ready to go.

(He did a fantastic job, too. Honourable mention in the student competition!!)

After he gave his talk, I went back to the lab while he finished off the rest of the conference. I managed to round up about 2/3 of the materials I need for this paper, and then I went home to read. In total, I spent about 6 hours reading and making notes for the paper, which might be a Saturday record since January!

The reason I haven't had such productive work-Saturdays since January is because I've been trying desperately to plan a wedding. Hence "fiancé", not "boyfriend", nor "husband". Saturdays are shopping and organizing days, for the most part. Last Saturday we did the tuxedo-thing. The Saturday before that, it was shopping for program supplies, which involved a 40 minute bus trip to the industrial park. Within 6 months of the wedding, we're both going to defend our PhDs. How smart was that timing, huh?

Oh, yeah, science... forgot about that for a second. So, productive Saturday. I had a fairly productive Sunday too. We went to the market for veggies and fruit, and I got about a page and a half written. That's probably going to take the place of the original pages that I had, which were disorganized, but once I start smoking through it, it'll be no problem to get the 10 single-spaced pages that will miraculously transform into my 20 double-spaced pages.

Tomorrow, I'm borrowing my fiancé's laptop, and I'm going to try working from his place. He doesn't have TV or internet, which seem to be equally harmful to my productivity.

We'll see how that goes ;-)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Humble pie, anyone? À la mode?

So, I just visited my friend's blog (see link at right - removed). She's a CBC employee who is locked out in Yellowknife, where she's lived, worked, and raised a family for the past six years or so. She's been posting photos, and thoughts about her experiences up there. There are a handful of new shots today, and it was sobering to see them.

I'm worrying about a paper, and she's out with her babies on the picket.

(I am grateful for what I have. I am grateful for what I have.)

Kinda makes you snap back into perspective, doesn't it?

Love you Cindy, keep the faith, OK?

Anxiety much?

Ok. So I was in a great mindset yesterday. 20 double-spaced pages, no problem.


Never read the rules for your examination if there's a possibility that you'll read something you don't like, or that you'll take them seriously.

It's a bit difficult to see, in black and white, what happens if you (theoretically) fail your exam.

Fail it once, apply to re-exam.

Fail it twice, they're supposed to call the Grand Poobah and recommend you be forcibly removed from the premises.


Now, no one ever fails twice. At least, I've never heard of anyone failing twice. These things tend to fall under the category of "Rulesesque" - they're there as guidelines, but aren't hard and fast; nobody passes in their reports to committee members two weeks in advance, and nobody ever follows their original research plan.

So, why is it when I'm looking at them for my own purposes, I can't be flexible?

Weird how the perfectionist rears its ugly head at the strangest of times.

Friday, August 26, 2005

So, the first thing to explain, and coincidentally the most pressing task is...

I have this hoop to jump through, the second-last one, as a matter of fact.

All grads know about hoops. You'd swear we were trained Pomeranians in the circus. For the uninitiated, here's a brief explanation:

Hoop #1 = assessment exam. You start off in grad school, you have to write a full-day exam on the basics of your field (or of the department that deals with your chosen field). You're then deemed worthy to enter the secret realm, which is not unlike the great Water Buffalo Lodge. (It is my life's goal to someday be someone's Grand Poobah)

Hoop #2 = Candidacy exam - the opportunity to show how just how smart you are, and that you deserve to really do your work, and if you want, skip from a Masters program to a PhD program. Write a 15-page report, including justification for your methods, give a 20 minute presentation, and then you're examined by your committee. Not unlike a firing squad.

Hoop #3 = Comprehensive exam - where you prove that you've been able to keep up with the published literature in your field while being über-productive at the same time. That is to say, you're smart enough to juggle. Write several critical essays on your field, give a 20 minute presentation, then an hour or so of questioning. Wunderbar.

Hoop #4 = Preliminary thesis defense, where you provide a healthy background of the literature, decide which camp you like and why, and present your results as they relate to that camp. You guessed it - 20 page report, 20 minute presentation, then firing squad yet again.

Hoop #5 (aka Final Jeopardy) = Thesis defense. later, rinse, and repeat. (but, instead of 20 pages, you have to come up with anywhere from 250-500 pages).

I'm a big fan of Hoop #4, the barrel of which I'm staring down, because it's another essay. An essay, not a scientific paper. No serious nit-picky explanations of methods and quantities and statistical tests. Just my thoughts on my work - why I think that some of the people that came before me are absolutely correct, and why the others are completely wrong. It's so much easier to ramble in an essay, and this particular one only has to be 20 pages.


Countdown to Hoop #4:
24 days (subject to change depending on committee schedules).

Pages written towards Hoop #4 to date:

2 (3.5 if you count the detailed outline that I plan to expand like an accordion)

Total hours spent on the 2 pages of Hoop #4:

Theoretically, that's 2 hours per page. Which means I have about 36 hours of work left.

Holy pipettors, Batman. I'd better get back to work.

Why, oh why, would I start a blog? Have I truly gone nuts?

Hmmm. Let's see.

Papers to write. A thesis to plan. A defense to prepare.

And I'm starting a BLOG?

I must be nuts. Or, perhaps, I've finally found some sanity.

You see, I used to journal. I wrote all the time, and it took me through a relatively functional childhood to a relatively functional adolescence, to a relatively functional undergrad. But, I stopped shortly after I started grad school.

And functionality has left the building.

As much as I love my work, I think I'm closer to sane when I write non-science. Sitting in front of the evil computer all day drains the brain, and the idea of picking up a pen makes me want to curl up under my desk. So, I'm running with the assumption that you, fellow grad, are out there feeling the same way.

I've taken on some crazy schtuff for the next 6 months, on top of that l'il ol' thesis. Hopefully this process will help me keep it all in perspective.

But, that remains to be seen.....