Friday, June 29, 2007

Teh Tehsis: Post #1 of a zillion...

A couple of days ago I had a huge, long, fantastic meeting with Dr. SuperWoman, my main research adviser here at Hot State University. We've been saying for a while that we should really talk about my thesis, and haven't gotten around to it (we've been trying to get a paper out the door all week, and I've just started a new and hairy method of analysis that's involved lots of help and discussion). Finally, at that last meeting, she said, "Well, we could talk about it now", and *boom*, we were off.

To my astonishment, I thought for about five seconds only to realize that I'm *ALWAYS* thinking about this. I have a couple of sub-disciplines in Useless Science that fascinate me, and since I have a rather unique research history I'm very anxious to combine the two disciplines to answer some very popular and hotly-debated questions. I've already done a relatively large amount of work in both fields, and I know that the question I'd like my thesis to answer will be a big deal, and of great interest to lots of people. I've had this idea for a while, and it pretty much evolves with every passing day as I think about it little by little. And it's not changing - it's just becoming more detailed and thought-out

By the end of that meeting I had described a semi-detailed plan that she loved, we had talked about the sort of proposals and field work I'd need, we had even pieced together potential future committee members and set a timeline for when I should plan on giving my "proposal defense", as we call it. I was bouncing on my bike seat the whole way home, squeeing with excitement, and buzzing all over my apartment. Even when I managed to settle down and get a little work done, I was ridiculously pumped. No way drugs can do this. When I tried to go to sleep, I got back up and banged out the outline that was zooming around my head before falling asleep. I cannot WAIT to get this up and rolling - yeeeeeeeeeeeeee...

Now, I'm planning to propose my thesis sometime early next year - that gives me plenty of time to piece together a really thorough and detailed proposal, do background research, and begin planning what my realistic goals are for the project. This puts me about a year and a half ahead of the standard grad student timeline in my Department. Looking ahead, it seems that I'll be finishing sometime in the four-to-five year range.

O readers, tell me: what will I do wrong?

There's no WAY I'm the first Ph.D. student to think "I already have an idea! I'll finish in four years!", nor will I be the last. I am not particularly smart. I am hardworking and motivated, but so is almost everyone who goes to grad school - that's nothing special. I've lucked out so far with extremely supportive advisers and projects that I love and am passionate about. Given the long-distance situation with TB and my general eagerness to get to a more solid and flexible place in life, I've definitely got plenty of reasons to push toward finishing early. Right now, I see no reason why I can't, barring some unforeseen tragic event. But I don't have that much faith. I'm not special. Why should I expect to do what so many people, who are probably smarter and harder-working and better scientists than I, don't?

Tell me: what's going to derail me? Will I have the committee from hell? Will my field work fall on its face? Will I get SCOOPED? (this is another reason why I'm in such a rush - this is an exciting question, I've never heard anyone ask it before, I want to be the one to answer, and there's no WAY that nobody else has noticed how interesting this subject is). Will I break up with TB and fall into a long bitter depression that strands me here for seven years? Anybody? I figure if I know what might happen - if I know what the typical roadblocks are - it might give me at least a little extra time to prepare for and accomodate them.

Help! Things are going too well! Something is going to break any moment now! (how sad is that? Even when grad students are happy, they're stressed about being happy).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

raaaaaar, people-eater!

Because I see all the cool kids doing it. And my curiosity overcame my usual dislike of these surveys. ENTJ! Who knew?

Your Score: Dictator- ENTJ

60% Extraversion, 53% Intuition, 66% Thinking, 60% Judging

Have you no soul? It's clear you have no heart and that your blood runs cold, but really, do you have even one redeeming factor?

Sure. You're a natural born leader. So was Hitler. You just don't like people, do you?

You don't play games. You take charge. And there's very little room for mistakes in your world. You're forceful, intimidating and overbearing.

Heard of the word "patience?" Trust me, it's a word and it's something you're sorely lacking. Believe it or not, you're not always right. Learn to have some patience for those who think differently from you, knobflap.

From the way people's knees knock when they see you, you should have realised by now that you're not exactly a "people-person." You're more of a "people-eater." You just ain't tuned into people's feelings and probably couldn't care less whether you were anyway. Maybe you're not from this planet but the rest of us are.

Sure, you're intelligent. So what? You have some semblance of power. Big deal.

At least people LIKE the rest of us.


If you want to learn more about your personality type in a slightly less negative way, check out this.


The other personality types are as follows...

Loner - Introverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving

Pushover - Introverted Sensing Feeling Judging

Criminal - Introverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving

Borefest - Introverted Sensing Thinking Judging

Almost Perfect - Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving

Freak - Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging

Loser - Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving

Crackpot - Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging

Clown - Extraverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving

Sap - Extraverted Sensing Feeling Judging

Commander - Extraverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving

Do Gooder - Extraverted Sensing Thinking Judging

Scumbag - Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving

Busybody - Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging

Prick - Extraverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving

Link: The Brutally Honest Personality Test written by UltimateMaster on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Monday, June 25, 2007

In a brief break from your regularly scheduled blog...

First off: I hate reality shows.

I ESPECIALLY hate shows like "America's Got Talent". The talented people are extremely run-of-the-mill mediocre, and the rest are just there for the absurd point-and-laugh entertainment that so many Americans apparently love.

I also tend to have rather picky music tastes.

Now, take a break from reading and watch the video. Be sure to stretch your "wait, WHAT??" double-take muscles first.


Did you watch it yet?


I have been prowling the internet on and off ALL AFTERNOON looking for an mp3 version of this performance by Cas Haley. It has been in my head since I stumbled across an America's Got Talent rerun and fortunately suppressed my "ugh, click away" reflex long enough to hear this guy. This was the first time I'd heard the song, actually, and as is typical, "the first album was better": I downloaded the original by The Police and can't even get through it - I want the Cas Haley version!!

Will it get me to watch the rest of the show? Noooo. Frankly, I suspect that after that performance he should have no trouble getting signed in some way, shape, or form, regardless of what a contrived NBC reality show does with him (that said, Today-Show-style publicity and a million dollars can't hurt, right?) What it will get me doing is buying his band's music/CDs/whatever. Damn.

I'm not saying he's, you know, the next Bob Marley or anything, but he has an extraordinarily unique and pure voice, and his pitch is better than about 95% of the money-sodden pop singers bopping around with an entire studio's worth of electronics behind them to keep them in tune. As a still-not-quite-former music geek, I get super-excited when I hear stuff like this. As you can probably tell.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Random Bullets of Summer - New People!

  • The summer students are here! I "have" two (each of my advisers has a summer student that I get to help): Pixie and Chill
  • Pixie is fantastic (and adorably tiny, hence the name) - she's very methodical, very sharp, is clearly happy to be doing her research, and has somehow been convinced that I am extremely cool. I actually advise her here and there - she'll bring me a problem, I'll look at it and think of something she can try, and I tell her to try it. She does and comes back - usually the problem is fixed, sometimes it's not, it's all good. I LIKE advising!
  • Chill needs to chill. Simultaneously, she has that sort of lazy monotone in-the-throat manner of talking common to droves of college girls across the country - the "I'm-too-cool-to-use-my-diaphragm" style. You know what I mean. She is very into an extremely small obscure niche of Useless Science that she stumbled upon via a research project at her undergrad, and has already told me that if she can't study her niche and ONLY her niche, she doesn't want to study Useless Science (which to me means she's not really interested in Useless Science - she just hit on a project that was easy a while back and doesn't want to leave her comfort zone. Grad school will be a rude awakening for her). She'll periodically roll into my office asking where our adviser is and then stay to chat because she finished all of her work because she's done this a hundred times before and she wants to do stuff but she's bored bored bored. Meanwhile I am literally up to my elbows in my current project and busy as hell. Telling the overwhelmed grad student who's trying to get a paper draft edited that your life is hard because you're bored - during your summer vacation - is not a way to get on said grad student's good side.
  • The grads and summer students have hung out in a group a couple times, and one guy still hasn't deigned to engage me in a real conversation. Apparently since I'm not a dude, and also not hot, I'm not worth getting know. It's not much of a loss - he seems like an ass. Still - that sort of thing never boosted anyone's ego...
  • The rest of the summer students are cool. Pixie and a few of the other girls have somehow anointed me the advice-giver - they've come by looking for directions around campus, ideas on where to go out for lunch, Advil, questions about grad school, the works. And if I tell them I'm busy, they smile and head off to ask someone else! Simple! And they're so fun they're usually a welcome distraction from "why do my figures still look awful" hell.
  • The new grad students are starting to arrive! There's one in my office. She's nice enough. She's also bored. She has some work to do, but it's not remotely urgent or time-consuming. So she likes to chat. A lot. A LOT. Remember how I'm up to my elbows in work? I'm not really in a chatty condition. I've taken to wearing my headphones constantly, even if there's no music on, as a "Don't bug me" signal. This works maybe 80% of the time.
  • With the beginning influx of new students, the Office Space Follies have gone to hell in a handbasket - people are being kicked out of offices, fighting furiously within offices, begging for new office space, the works. Does this seriously happen every year? I'm still hunkered down over my space, which thankfully is mine and all mine and not about to be messed with - but I think next year I'm going to see if we can't get everyone kicked out of their spaces and just draw names out of a hat. Sure, I might get stuck with a tiny crappy space surrounded by chatty first-years, bt at least there wouldn't be this incessant bitching.
  • Finally, even if a couple of them are annoying, it's kind of nice to be surrounded by chicks. It's a welcome change for Useless Science, and a nice environment to be working in! Here's hoping every single one of them is someday a professor and I can walk around going "I knew Dr. Pixie when she was an undergrad!"

Monday, June 18, 2007

It's true!

Elli is alive!

Apologize for the crummy lack of posting - this comes on the heels of my resolution to post regularly, if not daily, this summer. It's been nice to see that people actually occasionally read and listen to what I say, and writing in here has gotten me to explore my own views in more detail. So sorry! Come baaack! I won't do it again!

I can chalk up a hard week of absence to the virus from hell. Are there seriously viruses out there that aren't the flu but manifest as a demonic head cold coupled with inability to keep down any consumable including water? Sucked. I don't really have an excuse for the rest, other than "trying to feel human again". Post-sick is almost worse than sick - after losing a crashing twelve pounds in forty-eight hours I've taken license over the past week to eat whatever strikes my fancy in order to feel better, along with skipping my morning jogging and napping whenever I can (and I'm not a napper). So I feel human again, but I also feel fat and lazy. Blah.

Interestingly (and probably stupidly), I was working my ass off the whole time as soon as I was able to drink water and eat toast. I've been working like mad to polish off a project and a pseudo-related paper, and also preparing to move at the end of the summer (apartments AND offices) and starting to piece together bits of ideas for Teh Tehsis. I got a shitload done, but this is probably why my recovery has been unnecessarily slow. High/low-lights of that weird hazy productive time:

  • I gave a fairly big talk recently. I had prepared for the talk furiously up until I got ill. Fortunately I was at least healthy enough to show up and give the presentation (anxiety about getting healthy in time for my talk totally didn't help the healing process). I gave the thing on a truly unnatural amounts of drugs, having practiced only a couple times in the preceding week, and I'm still getting compliments on the talk - everyone said it was fantastic and well-done and extremely composed. Clearly I need to start pounding antibiotics and barely-over-the-counter-decongestants before every presentation. Or maybe just a hip flask would suffice.
  • So far my office move looks to be fine. There's a vacated space that I want and have dibs on. But some of my friends aren't faring as well - one poor girl has the current resident of an office practically blackmailing her into not taking a space in his office that should really be hers for the taking. The reason? As he explained to a buddy, he wants to leave the space open for a first-year (the space is way too nice for a first-year), to "meet new people". Coming from this guy, this translates to "the girl who wants the space isn't hot enough or single enough and I want to mack on hot incoming first-year girls". He's 29.
  • TB sent me a box of powdered soup and a stuffed frog, along with a sandwich and hot cup of tea in the form of those little plastic food toys that come from kids' Playskool kitchens, with a note saying that this all would have gotten here sooner if he had been around, and he hoped I was feeling better. TB's a great guy, but mushy little gestures like this are pretty rare - a smart tactic, because getting that package utterly made my day.
  • Four of my college friends are engaged. FOUR OF MY COLLEGE CLASSMATES ARE ENGAGED (to be fair, two of them are engaged to each other, but still). I heard about all three engagements in a 24-hour period. I'm not jealous - it's not time for me to be engaged right now by a long shot - but, gack...I'm going to be buying people Pyrex cup sets and cheese slicers off their wedding registries while I eat ramen out of a foam bowl and IM TB while sitting around in my underwear. It's not lost on me why the TV shows I watch feature lots of commercials for and weight loss pills. I can remind myself that I have a boyfriend all I want. It doesn't get me a cheese slicer. (what does help is compiling a new draft of my paper-in-progress and seeing "Elli T. Blogger" as the first author. Booyah!)
  • I took this weekend as an official "stop and recharge" time, and geeked out furiously by watching the U.S. Open and calling my dad whenever one of the golfers made a particularly dramatic shot. My parents both loooove golf, and I was actually a pretty decent player in high school before I dropped it out of, unfortunately, dorked-out shame once I got to college. I haven't played much since except for swinging a club with my dad when I'm home, but it does mean that I tune in for the majors and call my dad hollering when someone holes it from the fairway or misses a putt by an eighth of an inch. Plus hey, it's Father's Day. The two of us got a kick out of it, anyway. My dad's awesome :)
  • Thinking on it, there may be a connection between foam ramen bowls, dating website ads, and spending a weekend day calling my dad to shout about Tiger Woods' putting...
Anyway, now I'm healthy and hopefully tomorrow I can snap out of "pizza and websurfing" and back into "veggies and running and blogging" :P I'll be writing!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Grad Student Musing #2

You know you're a grad student when you go out to dinner after work...and walk into the (semi-nice, birthday-boy's-choice) restaurant wearing cutoff shorts and carrying a backpack.

(once...just once...I'd like to have sufficient warning to show up at a restaurant in real clothes and carrying a purse!)

Monday, June 4, 2007

If a grad student works, but nobody sees her do it... she a slacker?

I woke up this morning to pouring rain, quashing my initial plans for the day. I decided to head into work early, and go to the gym this evening instead of running this morning. I sat down with my breakfast in front of my computer and decided to check out a couple files that I'd need for a big to-do list item today. Three hours later, I still hadn't gotten up but I had crossed off the huge to-do list item in grand fashion - data found, corrected, analyzed, plotted, the works. I showered and made myself lunch and now I'm waiting for the next bus, as it is still raining.

On the one hand, I got a TON done - this could have theoretically taken all day between the distractions of officemates, free food, lunch breaks, etc. On the other hand - the other grad students have been in the office, my advisers have possibly been by looking for me...I can't help but feel guilty that I've been working at home, even though I seriously think that I couldn't possibly have been more productive (apparently my ideal work environment involves natural sunlight, open windows, my Anne of Green Gables DVD, and sitting around in my underpants. This should make things interesting as a professor). When I meet with my adviser on Friday, she's going to care that I got a bunch of new data points into our paper, not that I got the points while sitting in my apartment.

I know I'm being ridiculous - I don't feel nearly as bad when I'm at work and websurfing. Why is that?? What is there about a physical presence at work that makes us feel so assured that we're Getting Things Done, regardless of how much we actually do?

(the upshot is that this has further confirmed my belief that, with sufficient planning, I can blow this popsicle stand and work remotely if necessary)

Friday, June 1, 2007


I want these. Oh how I want these.

Made all the better by the vague sexual undertones? ("wait...head??...")

As seen at Feministe.