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Just got home from 7 full days out there. Too brain dead for a long write-up, so here are some bullet points:
  • I got a good mountain fix, but the more I see them (particularly the Flatirons), the more I want to see them regularly. I got a couple of nice prints of the Flatirons at an arts co-op on Pearl Street, because I have yet to be satisfied with any of my own shots of them. The best lighting was this morning, and of course the camera was packed and I was on my way to the airport.
  • On every trip to Pearl Street Mall, I encountered at least one street musician doing a rendition of "Big Yellow Taxi". Not surprised.
  • Speaking of music, I found a decent Denver radio station I could leave on in the rental car: KIMN "Mix 100". Pretty funny morning show duo ("Dom and Jane"), and a decent mix of older stuff I like and not annoying new stuff. There may have been even better stations, but I didn't search after landing on KIMN.
  • Speaking of radio, the time- and space-varying electromagnetic interference in the area drove me crazy with cell phone service interruptions. At first I thought it was the interior of the NCAR building my class was in, but I started having intermittent trouble with service all around town. It's not like the mountains were blocking me during most of the trouble times. Then yesterday, I remembered that not only were NCAR and NOAA there, but so is NIST. And I drove by the Table Mountain Field Site and Radio Quiet Zone. That and the presence of NIST could account for cell phone weirdness.
  • Found a good beginner didgeridoo with a CD of instructional videos from a couple that plays on Pearl Street Mall. [livejournal.com profile] lightning_rose introduced me to them when I was out there 2 years ago, but I hadn't decided to pick it up then. Still didn't buy it, though, because I had enough stuff to hassle getting home on my flight today. Price was $30, but I'm also going to look around online to see if I can't find something similar.
  • One hopefully positive effect of this visit was a less than subtle kick in my own ass about getting back in shape, at least to bike ride. Getting a chance to see how well the community provides for bicyclists and the beautiful areas in which to ride was inspirational. Tomorrow, between catch-up chores, must get on exercise bike.
  • Last Sunday, I went down to the Colorado Irish Festival in Littleton, to catch a show by Eileen Ivers. She was awesome as usual. Got a CD signed and a pic with her.
  • Learned more than I expected at the WRF model users Basic Tutorial at NCAR. I'll need to make changes to the software for my Ph.D. work. This may involve working closely with some of the folks at NCAR that I met during class.
  • Toni and I have talked about Boulder being an area high on our possible relocation list. There's a major NOAA lab and several spin-off weather-related corporations all in the area. Getting on at NCAR is tough, but they do have a program that might just make it easier. To do some of the close-knit work with folks out there, I can try to get a long-term visitation grant (anywhere from 3 to 12 months). Actually, the way it works is that I would have my advisor contact the appropriate NCAR staff person to submit an application.
  • Just over a week quasi-alone (I was out there for class with my office mate and 80 other attendees) was nice in a way, but I missed Toni more than I expected. Probably because it had been so long since I'd been away for any significant length of time without her. This doesn't mean we couldn't make an extended NCAR visit work. She could come out and even work from my residence there.
  • I have pics from Boulder (and 2 previous trips, Massachusetts and Minnesota) still to post. I hope to work on those starting tomorrow.
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- Worked from home today, on a presentation on arctic haze I'm giving in my class Thursday morning. Less pressure than the one for the expo Saturday that was about my research, but I've still been pretty brain dead all day. Also did laundry. Whee...

- Emptied a bunch more book boxes in the library. The ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is now how many boxes are left to unpack?

- In the process of unpacking those book boxes, I also came across a good possibility for retaliation if the immature neighbors start bugging us again: I found my bullroarer. If they're drunk, they probably won't have a clue what the sound is.

- Toni got us a bunch of little Coraline figurines as a Valentine's present for the both of us. I placed them on top of a couple of the book DVD cases in the living room, and she noticed this morning that our large, cast, painted figure of Gollum that came with one of the super-orgasmatron The Lord of the Rings DVDs looks like he is looking over at the Coraline figurines thinking "WTF?" :-)
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And so, hopefully without jinxing myself by saying it, I'm hopeful the colossal shit of the last five or six weeks is wrapping up.

The new laptop is here, and works.

My lousy math course grade ended up not being as critical a FUBAR as feared.

Ph.D. funding possibilities are still out there.

Closing on our house sale, lousy as the deal is with respect to our equity, is eight days away, and our cash flow should then improve.

Mom's gone, but I'm dealing. I've got seven more free sessions with a counselor/therapist, and I intend to use them to full advantage, for that and other stresses.

Met with my advisor today, and we discussed the timeline for finishing my M.S. We both think I can do it this semester. I'd need to defend by April 20, which means I need the reading copy of my thesis done by April 6, which means my research and analysis should be mostly done by spring break (March 14), which leaves me about 7 weeks for that.

I'm hoping to be able to get out of town maybe the weekend of January 31, but after that, I'll be putting my head down again and charging forward to get this done.

Monday Meh

Dec. 1st, 2008 10:11 am
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Thanksgiving break was nice. Toni made a turkey breast on Thursday, and mashed potatoes on Friday, and two pumpkin pies we just finished off last night. Didn't get much done that I had considered doing productively, but I needed the break.

Took the Civic in for maintenance this morning. Had to get Toni up when I did so she could follow me in the 'ru and bring me to school. Forgot my lunch, so I'll be ordering in, I think. It's too yucky out to walk anywhere.

We got our first covering snow yesterday, and more overnight. I think no one in this town cleans off their car windows before getting behind the wheel.

Tallied up all my points in my math class to date. If I get 100% on the final (not bloody likely), the best uncurved score I'll have in the class is 75%. And the prof is being a real jerk as usual - he mentioned that in "upper level graduate courses, usually only As and Bs are given, but" he doesn't "consider this an upper-level graduate course." Could have fooled me, the way he's teaching it. And I use that term very loosely.

Anyone out there rented a house before (as in being the property owner, not the tenant)? Any advice when looking for a property manager? I know basic questions we need to ask, like ensuring they handle the lease, service calls, collecting rent, marketing of the property, what their fees are, etc.
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- Didn't get my math test back on Friday after all. Prof got back late and hadn't finished grading. He did go over the answers, though. I made some STOOPID mistakes. Didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Was primarily doing the former.

- Had a good time at the in-laws over the weekend. Saturday, Toni's mom made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. We went to Costco. Had lunch at the in-laws' golf club (I had something called a "hot brown" which seemed like a turkey melt on steroids). Played cards. I bailed on Spite and Malice after one game of it, though - it's just not my kind of card game. Had more fun at Triopoly, even though I was losing chips to my 10-year-old niece the whole time. :-) Yesterday Toni and I left Louisville after breakfast and hit the Pfaltzgraff store at the Edinburgh outlet mall on the way home.

- We also stopped by the house to check it, clean it, and fix the front door knob (apparently it came loose and fell off last time a friend checked on it). Door knob was okay (I think my friend found the screw he thought his daughter lost), but I found what looked like cigarette ash in one spot on the dining room carpet. If someone showing or looking at the house was smoking I'm going to go ballistic. Also discovered that even though we dropped the price quite some time ago, our agent hasn't changed the flyers in the outside box with the new price. Toni and I have decided that when our listing contract is up, she's gone. It's like she's blown us off. Just because we're no longer living in it doesn't mean we don't want to sell it. We're going to get a new agent with a different realtor.

- Today I need to finalize the edits to my fellowship application, draft a semester summary for my committee meeting (scheduling of which is driving me insane - trying to coordinate four faculty members is always challenging), go to math class (where we probably will finally get the test back), turn in a math library book that's been no help, and drop off said fellowship application.

- The rest of the week will be reading and errands, most likely. I technically have school tomorrow, but since I don't have Tuesday classes, I probably won't come into the office. I may work a lot from home on my literature review for my thesis and getting the code I got from my former office mate to work. I should take the Civic in for maintenance, maybe tomorrow, and I don't know if Toni will want me to hit the grocery since she's now working later hours and we didn't get there over the weekend. Also should get my hair cut. Thanksgiving with my folks has been delayed until mid-December, since apparently my mom is getting over a UTI, so Toni and I may just watch movies Thursday. She's going to work, but she didn't think it should be too taxing that day.

- May go to Massachusetts after Christmas. Need to e-mail our friends in Ipswich about crashing there again. Toni will most likely work during the days, and I'll probably take papers for my literature review, but we usually just hang out when we're there anyway. It's just nice to get together with them, and I love the area.

More Stuff

Oct. 31st, 2008 03:35 pm
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- Apparently I'm a mentor. Who'd a thunk it? Was exchanging comments online with a friend who was an undergrad here until this past May about her returning to Purdue in a few weeks to take the GRE and talk to people about going to grad school. At one point she said I had been a "good friend and mentor." She also remarked my return to school is inspiring. Mentor? Inspiring? Moi?

- Voted yesterday. Selfish of me perhaps, but now I could go without seeing any more political ads, signs, etc.

- No immediately pressing school work this weekend. Yay! Unpacking my office and relaxing are the current plans.

- Speaking of school work, though, I did meet with my advisor today, and, while I presumed correctly that she hadn't gotten through my 2 draft thesis chapters enough to discuss yet, we did talk about what was next: The Literature Review. She also expressed that if she had a single concern about my MS thesis, it would be length. Not because I necessarily ramble in my academic writing, but, as she put it, because I'm a good writer. Although she did admit she'd like to see a good lit review of the subject, that if it was likely to come from anyone in the lab it would come from me, and a good one could be submitted separately to the journals as a review paper.

- Also got my paperwork prepped for spring semester registration. Taking one class: EAS 591 Aerosols, Clouds, and Climate. Team-taught by my advisor and the guy I had for Atmospheric Radiation last year. Decided not to take the Numerical Modleling class just yet, as I heard the prof makes that one a lot of work, which I don't need so close to finishing my MS. That means one of two things will happen: It will be offered again in time for me to take it as part of my PhD coursework, or I'll teach myself. By that point, I ought to be able to do so. Also declared my MS candidacy for May '09. My advisor said it would be easier to declare and change it if it doesn't look like I'll finish on time than not to declare it and add it on before the end of spring semester.

Stuff

Oct. 30th, 2008 10:41 am
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- I've communicated more with my former office mate (via e-mail - she's now working at MIT's Lincoln Lab) in the last two weeks than I think I did the entire time she shared the office with me (almost 2 years). Of course, she was ABD during the time we were both here and not in the office all that much, especially for the 2nd year when she and her hubby moved and had a similar commute to my former one. I'm trying to fill in some of the things she didn't get done for her dissertation.

- One of my advisor's NSF proposals that will likely fund my PhD work involves a field campaign researching ice processes in clouds (yay! We're all more than a little tired of warm rain in the lab here). One might expect such a campaign to be carried out in Michigan, or Canada, or maybe Greenland. Nope. It's supposedly going to be in the same place as the warm rain campaign whose data I'm using right now - the Caribbean.

- Still need to early vote. Going to head over to Payless when I leave here after lunch and see what the line is like. It was along the entire storefront the other night when Toni and I checked.

- This weekend may be the first (and last) weekend free of school obligations for a while. Math class had a sub Monday and yesterday, and no class tomorrow, and I doubt my advisor has had a chance to bleed on my two thesis chapter drafts yet. Hopefully I can finally get my office unpacked and start on the library. Want to try to catch up on House, too.

- After deciding last week not to go to the AMS conference in Phoenix in January for several reasons, I learned this week that one of my lab mates, my former office mate mentioned above, and my advisor all have presentations that I should see. So, I'm going to try to make it out to Phoenix the Saturday before (so I get a cheaper Saturday-stay airfare) and go at least to Monday and Tuesday's presentations if not the whole conference. I've always wanted to spend some time there and I know people there (including some here on LJ :-)), but was thinking I'd need to sit this one out. Wrong!

- Toni's going to Chicagoland in a couple of weeks so I'll get a weekend alone in early November. We love spending time together, but we each need alone time, too, and it's harder for me to get with her working from home. I'll probably have school stuff to do, of course.

- Got my haircut yesterday, first time up here. I love my Noblesville barber, but he's just too far now. I'd been putting it off for so long because I haven't been sure of where to go. With my hair, I'm leery of stylists who want to do stuff with it. I learned years ago it's going to do what it wants so don't fight it. Went to the same place (but different stylist) Toni has been going since we moved, and the verdict is still out. Didn't get it as short as usual, because I'm not used to trying to describe the right way to cut it to someone.
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Tomorrow is busy with Toni with the Farmer's Market, a trip to Indy to check on and clean the house (and switch the HVAC to furnace), and a matinée showing of Avenue Q, before hitting Costco, Trader Joe's, and another grocery up here that does decorated cakes for my advisor's birthday next week. The rest of my labmates are taking responsibility for decorating the lab, so I volunteered to get the cake.

Sunday I'll be spending mostly trying to do the latest math homework. Wish me luck.

Next week's schedule is a bit lighter thanks to my math prof canceling class for Monday and Wednesday. Of course, the homework is still due next Friday at our next class, and I know he hasn't covered enough material to do it. Then again, that's par for the course with this guy.

Of course, to make up for no math class Monday or Wednesday, after meeting with my advisor today I have another day's data to start investigating as a new case, because I think we're going to throw out one of the ones I had been investigating (found a squall line. Squall line likely = ice. Ice != warm rain process, which is what we're trying to figure out). And we have her birthday thing on Wednesday.

I'm glad we don't have anything planned for the following weekend. I need to finish off those two thesis chapters so my advisor can start red-lining them by Halloween. And she reiterated today that, based on past writing of mine, she's looking forward to reading them. Even if she does still bleed all over them with red edit text, it's nice to hear she appreciates not having to teach me to write along with the science I'm learning.
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So. Based on this list I posted on Friday, how did I do?

Only got these done:
  • Usual Saturday morning errands (Farmer's Market, groceries, recycling drop-off, etc) with Toni.
  • Acquire pie, preferably apple. Pumpkin would be an okay second choice.
  • Lafayette Outoberfest with Toni tomorrow afternoon/evening.
  • Make significant headway on the two thesis chapters my advisor wants to see by 10/31.
  • Go with Toni early Monday morning and check on the house while she's at a dentist appointment.
  • Hope my math prof doesn't post the next homework before Wednesday.

The last item was actually moot, because he did post the new one yesterday afternoon. I did get some basic research done for some of the problems, too, because $Deity knows, I won't get the info from the class lectures or textbook.

As for making headway on my thesis, I have about 45 pages, and I'm not even done with the second of the two chapters I need to draft by the end of the month. It's surprisingly more difficult IMHO to edit and rearrange a lot of text I'd already written and make it flow well than to write from scratch.
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Having been here nearly two months, I've made some general observations. Some good, some bad.

This morning I noticed our hose cart, which I'd left in the driveway since we moved up here due to a shortage of garage space and lack of concern since the hoses on it are old anyway, had the hoses unreeled and strewn about half the driveway. It wasn't windy last night, and I don't think it was a varmint. College students. Inebriated, rude, and/or just plain careless, I'm guessing. I'm going to unspool the rest of the hose into our trash tote and check the cart's plastic for recyclability. Screw it. Don't really need it here. Hoses are pretty old (at least 13 years) and in bad shape, and fairly inexpensive to replace if we do need one.

I often stop in the morning at the Circle K across the corner from my building to pick up a Polar Pop (32 oz. drink for only 69 cents - a pretty good deal for a soft drink). Sometimes I see a Purdue Police officer chatting with the clerks. This morning, in the time it took me to go inside, get my drink, and check out, no less than three officers came in, got Polar Pops of their own, and left, barely even acknowledging the cashier. I have no problem with local law enforcement getting tiny perks like that. They probably keep that particular Circle K pretty safe. Technically I think it's off campus, but I'm still a bit fuzzy on exactly where that line is and what the Purdue Police's jurisdiction limit is, especially since, as law enforcement for a state university, they are a division of the Indiana State Police.

I was warned repeatedly by several fellow students about being out on the road during the couple of hours before a home football game. There's been one each of the last three Saturdays. Toni and I were out around then each time. US 52 was busy as game time approached, yes, but I think those who warned me come from areas less busy than where we used to live. Nothing here has even come close to the traffic I used to sit in on the way home from my old commute. Or that I've sat in in more dense areas (*cough* the Dan Ryan in Chicago, US 101 in the SF Bay Area, I-66 in northern Virginia or the Capital Beltway, 128 in Massachusetts). Noticing something is "all the way across town" has a different meaning too. In Indy, the airport was "across town" meaning 45 minutes (or more) away. Here, the maul is on the opposite corner of the Lafayette-West Lafayette area, and it's taken at most around 20-25 minutes to get from our place to that general area.

I've been craving some qabili palaw, a lamb and rice dish I used to order every time I went to Afghani House restaurant in Santa Clara (or Sunnyvale - somewhere right there on El Camino). Despite that there are numerous and widely varying ethnic restaurants up here (plenty of Greek - my favorite, Chinese, Mexican, and even general Middle Eastern - there are a couple of hookah bars that have non-smoking times/days), Google has not been my friend in locating an Afghani place or reasonable facsimile. And Kabul, the big one in Indy, unfortunately closed a few years ago, before I ever got a chance to go there.

Anyway...

Sep. 17th, 2008 08:31 am
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I can tell the season's changing when it's the first morning I need my sweater in the lab. I think it finally dropped below 50 F here overnight.

Second math homework underway. 8 problems, on first glance easier than the first assignment, but I've only completed two, and it's due Monday. I can say that so far I'm not too impressed with this prof, but I think it's because this class is for math PhD students prepping for quals, not specifically for other science/engineering students.

Research is plugging along. I'm getting closer to getting actual information from the 3D program. And I need to get there soon if I'm going to get a thesis done by May, or even August. I wish I either didn't have that math class this semester or it wasn't so demanding.

The new abode is coming together, downstairs at least. We got a bunch of stuff on the walls downstairs last weekend, and we each got more done on our offices and the upstairs hallway. The library, however, is still a mountain of book boxes.

Riveting stuff, I know. :-)

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