Posts from the ‘Holidays’ Category

Rainy days and Mondays

Evidently I’ve had three Mondays in eight days. That’s rough. I had a normal Monday today and a week ago, plus I had a “Monday” the day after Independence Day. Having one day off in the middle of the week was nice, but I had a difficult time getting going again, even with just two days until the weekend. Today has also been particularly tough since DH and I took a fast and furious weekend trip and only got back last night. It was really great, and more details will follow, but it’s been challenging getting back up to speed. Not having the weekend to keep up with routine tasks at home means I’m a little bit behind now. Plus it was rainy this morning with possibly more showers this afternoon. A rainy day and a Monday…bound to get me down I guess.

Since it is indeed Monday, it’s time for another Goal of the Week. I decided that I need to up the running again. I keep letting things get in the way of my normal exercise routine, but I shouldn’t. Given the Monday-ness of today, I know it might be hard to force myself to do it, but I’m going to, or else. I hope. :-/ But getting the blood pumping would probably help improve my Monday (and whole week) outlook. So I will do it or else. I hope.

I currently am courting two different job opportunities. Both have their appealing aspects, and they certainly  have their drawbacks as well. Things will undoubtedly progress as I continue to talk with both parties this week, and it’s quite possible I’ll have some significant decisions to make in the coming weeks. We’ll just have to see how it plays out. All the while I’m still keeping my eyes open for anything else that comes along. Just three weeks left in my current job…trying to stay motivated until the end. It’s hard when my experiment isn’t working as expected, but, after seven years of research, what else would I expect?



“The bombs bursting in air…”

This weekend we marked another 101-in-1001 item off our list (three in one week isn’t bad!).

Every year, the baseball team hosts three fireworks games–two around Independence Day and one for their last home game of the season. We’ve always wanted to go one, and this year we finally made it. I think I delayed on this one because I thought it would be a crowded, crazy mess to deal with (these are always sell-out games). It wasn’t too terrible, although parking prices around the stadium were artificially inflated due to demand. We also seemed stuck in a bit more traffic than usual after the game. Anyways, it was a neat experience.

The game was a commanding victory, which is always exciting. Then, after the game finished, all those seated in the two big sections underneath where the fireworks were being shot off were lead out onto the outfield to watch the show. This seriously took almost half an hour, but it was interesting to watch the mass chaos unfold until everyone finally got seated. The show itself was great; lots of interesting fireworks, patriotic music, and a quite ridiculous finale. This seemed like the perfect kind of activity to have on our list…fun and easily doable and prolongedly procrastinated.  😉

A photo of fireworks from a phone camera is hopelessly blurry. Ah well.




Mission Accomplished: Bolder Boulder 10k

This morning, I finally ran the 10k race that I have been training for. The Bolder Boulder is an annual Memorial Day event in which tens of thousands of participants run through downtown Boulder, finishing in a grand finale at the university stadium.

Yes, I did say tens of thousands of people…there were probably over 60,000 runners this year. They are all assigned to waves according to their approximate running time so you don’t have to trample slow people or get trampled by faster ones.  My friend and I were conservative in our choice of waves, since we didn’t want to over-commit ourselves on our first race; however, it seemed inevitable that you would be trampling or being trampled by so many folks regardless of your wave. Here’s our wave inching toward the starting line, waiting to start.

The course wound through the middle of town. Every few tenths of a mile, there were various bands and performers to entertain the runners. People also sat in their yards to spectate, sometimes providing such entertainment as slip-n-slides, belly dancers, music, cotton candy and marshmallows, beer bonging, and even a guy in a red, white, and blue speedo doing a pole dance (the low-point of spectator interaction, I’d say).

The whole course has a net uphill elevation gain with a summit of 5,381 ft, and I was a tiny bit concerned about it. However, the whole course was pretty reasonable with only a couple of notable uphill sections. The culmination of the race is up the hill going into the stadium. I was just sure I wouldn’t be able to tackle it, but when I got there, I actually made it, as it wasn’t as long a hill as I had previously heard. However, the turn into the stadium continued uphill, and I had to take it easy for a minute or two before entering the stadium so I could finish the final lap around the field with a final running surge.

I did completed the race in 74 minutes and some change, which I thought was not too bad, especially for my first race, and a longer one, too. So, in the month of May this year I have graduated with my PhD and run a 10k (both ending up in the same university stadium, too, coincidentally). That’s quite an eventful month. We’ll just have to see what June brings!

Two days

It’s Tuesday, two days until my defense.

I had a very nice Easter weekend, even though I did spend Sunday afternoon and evening working on my presentation. My sacrifice paid off, however. I had another practice talk on Monday, and that went oh so much better than my previous one. I even nailed it in under 45 minutes, which is my goal. A little more refining over the next two days, and I should be able to do it under 45 and not talking 90 mph like an auctioneer. :p

At this point, my greatest concern  will be making sure I am fluent in all aspects of my work, being able to confidently field questions from the committee. I don’t necessarily have to know all the answers, but I need to think well on my feet and be able to speak to at least some aspect of a question. This is the most terrifying part of this entire thesis process; some questions can come way out of left field and you have no way to prepare for it. However, if I sell myself and my work solidly in my presentation and answer most other questions intelligently, then hopefully they have no reason to say that I am not qualified to be deemed a PhD. I just have to be confident, feel confident, and believe that I’m confident.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I intended to apply for a job. I managed to get my application and paperwork to them last week, though they are still missing one reference letter; I’m working on that today. Without going into too much detail, I will say that I am getting a favorable impression from them. It’s certainly not done and we’re still in the initial stages, but we’ll just have to see how serious it gets. I still have one specific job I want to apply for as soon as I get time to work on my paperwork for it, and then I haven’t even really begun to look in earnest either; I only intended to begin that after I defended. So there are still lots of options and nothing narrowed down yet. I have to admit I can let myself be almost as nervous about the next step as I am about my defense, but that’s just silly. Something will work out in the right time, and there’s no reason to be fearful about stepping out in faith into the real, professional world. Change may be uncomfortable, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about life, it’s that it isn’t at all about comfort.

In the beginning

Happy Pi Day, everyone! It’s March 14 (or 3-14), the day to celebrate everybody’s favorite irrational number. You can check out my post from last year to learn all about pi and Pi Day.

I will, unfortunately, not be celebrating Pi Day by making a pie, as is customary. I just don’t have the time this year. It’s crunch time, as we all know, and I’m rushing to get everything done.

Yesterday I took a big bite out of the introduction. It’s amazing to me how difficult it often is to write the first sentence of anything. I stared at my intro for a long time, even typing out later paragraphs of it months ago, but I had no clue how to begin. There were about fifteen different approaches I could take to introduce my project, but I didn’t like any of them. Finally, I sat down with my advisor, and we talked about the big picture of using perfect sine waves as a “ruler” for time and distance measurements. The closer your sine wave is to perfect, the more accurate your ruler is (that is, the “one inch” mark is definite, not kind of fuzzy so you don’t know where in the width of the fuzz the actual one inch mark is). Noise makes fuzz in the the zero crossings of a sine wave, thus giving some uncertainty about the exact duration of “one second.” Since making a truly perfect sine wave is impossible, the whole point of our research is making sine waves that have as little fuzz around the zero crossing as possible, making for a more accurate measurement.

That’s the route I finally decided to take to introduce my project, and it flowed quite naturally out of that. I stayed extra late last night to make some progress on that chapter, and now I have just one more section to write and I should be done with this draft. All that will leave for completely original writing is the conclusion, which should be straightforward to write given the arguments that have been presented in the rest of the paper. I would say that completely finishing the initial writing stage by the end of the week is totally on the radar.

I still have lots of revisions to do (once my advisor gives me back his comments on all the chapters he now has) and still that stupid, lingering data problem (which is slowly working itself out, but, unfortunately, not to a clean and tidy end). However, I really hope that the majority of changes will not require lots of onerous effort. Then it can go quickly, like an avalanche down to the final end. I know there will still be hiccups, but I’ve got my eye on the prize now, and I can just taste the freedom coming my way.

So, today I hope to finish the introduction and get started on the conclusion. Then I’ll go back to revisions I got previously and work on those while I wait for more feedback. Wednesdays haven’t been that motivating or productive the last couple of weeks, but I’m ready to buck the trend today!


Happy Leap Day!

Happy leap day! I hope you are enjoying your extra day of the year. I suppose I should be thankful for one extra day, but I think the graduate school just shifted all the graduation deadlines forward to offset it. :p

A leap day is probably one of the most obvious and impacting timing corrections made on a regular basis. Since the Earth doesn’t have an orbit of exactly 365 days around the sun, our calendar would eventually get off course with the actual seasons (dictated by the Earth’s location in its orbit). Therefore, every four years we pop an extra day into the calendar to accommodate for the slow shift.

It’s always interesting to be reminded that the calendar isn’t our timing mechanism at all; it just  counts the “ticks.” Every “clock” has two parts: the part that provides constant and relatively consistent oscillations, and the part that keeps track of how many have gone by, generically called a counter. In an actual timepiece, the oscillations are given by a pendulum or a quartz oscillator, something that has constant cycles. The counter is the face of the clock, either hands or a digital interface that tells you where you are. But even then, you have to look at a calendar to see what day it is to know where you are in the overall Flow of Time. Of course, since we don’t know when “time zero” was, we are only measuring Flow of Time relative to some arbitrary start date, but it works well enough for timekeeping on the scale of Earth’s history, at least. It’s still mind-boggling, though…time seems so simple, yet it is so complex!

As I mentioned in my last post, my “time counter,” the calendar, indicates that March is tomorrow and that I am gung-ho about pushing to the end. Monday and Tuesday were quite good this week, but today I’ve hit a bit of a wall. I am sick of the writing and don’t care about the data, so that certainly doesn’t motivate me to keep going. But I have to, regardless of how I feel. I just feel so crappy about it all. Hopefully I’ll have a change of heart soon and not be so pessimistic, but I still have to plow ahead despite my temporary existential quandry.

Six weeks from tomorrow…


Sometimes, the truth Hertz

I know, two blog posts in one day, gasp! But I just found out that today is the 155th birthday of Heinrich Hertz, German physicist and one of the pioneers in electromagnetism and frequency. You probably recognize that we honor him with the unit of frequency, the Hertz (one cycle per second). He was the first to conclusively provethe existence of electromagnetic waves and did many experiments that shape our modern understanding of the field. His discoveries would later enable development of such technologies as wireless telegraph, radio, and eventually television. He died at the untimely age of 36 from Wegener’s granulomatosis.

Google has honored him today with a Google Doodle on their search page.

I should also note that he obtained his PhD at the age of 23. Overachiever.

And while we’re also talking about important birthdays on this date, we also give a shout-out to George Washington, whose 280th birthday is today and was observed on Presidents’ Day on Monday. And finally, lest we tire of old geezers, happy birthday to my best friend Laura! I’m so glad I’m not the only 30-year-old anymore. 😉

So, is there cake somewhere?