Visit to North Carolina and subsequent fiascos.

Like the title suggests, I’ve spent the latter couple of days of the workweek in North Carolina.

N.C. is gorgeous! This time of year, the weather there is wonderful, the dogwood trees are in bloom, and of course, there is grass… that is green!

I ended up getting into Raleigh in the late morning, and spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the city exploring. I came across a Whole Foods store that brought back sweet memories of Texas. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Whole foods, it is a grocery that has its roots/headquarters in Austin, and is one of my favorite hangouts here in Texas.

In general, I had a pleasant experience on my trip, but…

Tornadoes in the southeast and south-mid-west U.S. ended up causing flight delays, and my flight out of the Raleigh-Durham airport did not leave until 10:15 pm. While I normally would not have been peeved, the biggest problem was that I had a connecting flight from Atlanta back to Austin. My odds of catching the connecting flight were 50/50 at best, but I decided to risk it and head to Atlanta to see if I even had a shot at catching the 9:15 pm flight out of Atlanta. Yes, I know 9:15 pm is before the time my first flight left, but I was hoping that my connecting flight would have been derailed as well due to high winds.

After getting off of my flight that landed in Atlanta, I RAN to the monitors to find that my connecting flight had not left, but the gate had changed to an entirely different terminal on the other side of the airport. YES!!!! The plane is still here… $#!7, I have to gooo!

I RAN to the shuttle to get to the other terminal. Meanwhile, hordes of people were lined up to get new flights out of the city (since their flights had been delayed as well). In all of the hustle and bustle, I made it at 11:40 pm to the gate of the flight that was to leave at midnight. I was out of breath, tired, annoyed, frustrated, and a fellow behind me says, that the flight attendant made the last call for boarders only 30 seconds before I had arrived at the gate. UGH!!!!!!!

I kicked at the gate, and knocked, and other people did for me as well. The host saw me and mouthed ‘no’. I looked at the window to watch my plane leave without me, shot the following picture, and cursed the flight attendant out under my breath.

I ended up spending last night in terminal C gate 34 at the Atlanta airport.
Not fun.

I’m just happy to be home. I caught the 8:40 am flight back to Austin from Atlanta this morning.

Home sweet, Texas!

ScIeNcE RULES!!!

I had the opportunity to hear Bill Nye speak today. In case you are too old/young to know who Bill Nye is, he is a comedian and scientist who brought science to the masses. I LOVED this guy as a pre-teen and tried to watch him, along with The Magic School Bus every Saturday on PBS.

In any case, his talk surrounded issues of climate change and stem cell research. In the past week, I have heard 3 talks that address these same issues.

I have long known that climate change has been happening, I’d also say that I try my hardest to minimize my carbon footprint. I ride my bike/walk places when I can, I’m a vegetarian, and since I grew up with a scrooge-like father, I rarely, if ever, waste things. When I do decide to go for a drive, my car is fairly fuel efficient, averaging 34 mpg. I can’t say the same for most other Americans.

It’s interesting how all of these lectures I’ve attended recently bring up the same point; the fact that the generation preceding mine had the fun of discovery, and now it is my generation that has to implement ways of undoing the damage that has been done and in effect, set limits to what our minds can do. Stem cells, can be likened to weapons. They can be used to not only help mankind, but to hurt it. Cloning can only lead to disaster, and gene therapies have, and will continue to be controversial. Reversing the environmental impact of development is also a challenge, but one I feel we can surpass (given adequate research funds from the government).

At the end of the day, I’d like to think there is no problem too big for man-kind. Of course, things I hope for, hardly ever come true and I fear that jealousy, greed, and narcissism will inevitably be the future problems of the world as opposed to the minuscule problems of science.

Where am I going?

I suppose the question in the title can be answered by knowing where I want to end up.

You’ll have to forgive me for not posting in several days. I spent the weekend in none other than:


I was surprised at how much I liked Bloomington. It’s a great college town with an eclectic mix of restaurants, people, and research in chemistry. The guy I wanted to work for IS really as neat in person as he is on paper and hopefully I can contact him in the next week or so (after my next visit weekend) and let him know that I wish to jump on board. The city is absolutely gorgeous in the spring and rightfully has the name ‘Bloomington.’ They actually have flowers. The flowers grow. Did I mention they have grass… that is green?


The campus has a rich history and the new lab facilities are absolutely incredible and far surpass those here in Texas. While it is a small town, I feel that will probably be in my own best interest…. less distractions from research. I hope to make some great new friends and I think IU will be where I end up.


I am happy.

-P

Another brilliant weekend

This past weekend was simply stunning. I spent the morning on Saturday at the Austin Farmers market:


The rest of Saturday was spent grading reports and knitting followed by a trip to north Austin to sign up for the Cap 10K race. Much to my dismay, the race for timed runners was closed (since I waited till the last day), so I ended up going to the Domain and went window shopping.

I ended up not signing up for the 10K since I wasn’t about to pay $30 for an untimed run and an ugly t-shirt. Instead, I woke up early on Sunday, ran 10K around the lake, and then spent the afternoon hanging out at Andy and Brendan’s house. Andy decided to hatch/adopt some chickadees so I got to visit with them…

After hanging out we decided we’d go out for dinner and a movie. We ended up seeing I Love You Man. It was a funny movie. I have officially capped out my 3 movie/year max. I guess the final installment of Harry Potter will have to wait until it comes out on DVD.

After that, we ended up going out to dinner at the Oasis. The views from the restaurant were spectacular and watching the sunset was relaxing and took my mind off of things. I now feel like I’ve ‘done’ Austin. If I had to leave tomorrow and not come back, that would be okay. That’s a good feeling.

Such bliss.

I guess that’s all for now. I have a ton of publications to sift through today and training stuff I better get to.

-P

Why am I agreeing to grad school again?

My main motive for going to grad school is to ultimately end up as an academic. I love doing research and thinking about science. Despite my love for research and science, I’ve decided that I am not cut out to be an instructor… I’m too easily annoyed and am too harsh on people when I do get annoyed.

I’ve given some consideration now to not going to grad school. I’d say I’m in with enough of the right people to be gainfully employed without grad school… in fact, grad school would be a step in the wrong direction monetarily for me.

Before I embark on what could be 5 years of hell, I’ve decided I need to better think out why I want to go to grad school in chemistry. Aside from the obvious fact that you need a PhD in order to be a professor or make decent money in industry as a chemist, there has to be something more that drives you to wake up in the morning to go to lab and fail multiple times before you do something right (whether it be on purpose or by chance).

I think those who like research are people who are stupid enough to do something multiple times (with some change) when the idea has already failed them. I’m one of those stupid types. If something doesn’t work, it will mull in my head night and day and I will think of nothing else until I can go back into lab and figure out what is going on. They wouldn’t call it REsearch if you got it right the first time. The high I get after figuring out whatever my mind is on is like no other and that drives me to pursue a PhD.

Sure, I’ve had dreams of touring the world on ice skates and opening up a yarn shop, but those just seem like trivial pursuits.  I feel like I have the potential to be something great, and to settle for something menial would be to deprive the world of something of slight substance… (me as a chemist)

Reasons I don’t want to go to grad school:

1) Social life… I guess I can forget social norms, because I probably won’t need to use them. As a young kid, I was very independent and liked having my alone time. As I’ve grown, I realize the importance friends and family have on my life and the idea of not having a tight group of friends to do stuff with scares me.

2) Teaching: I hate it (see paragraph 1)

3) Lack of other hobbies: Ice skating, training, running, knitting… no more. 🙁

4) Sausage fest: I guess times are changing, but I still believe that at least in the physical sciences, the number of guys in the programmes outweigh the number of women. You’d think a single girl like myself would like the idea of this, but no. There’s a reason they say,
“The Odds are Good, but the Goods are Odd”

5) Surroundings: hello fluorescent lighting, teratogens, lab coats, and sub-freezing labs. There’s no point in putting make up on because the fluorescent lighting will wash my face out anyway. Screw trying to have kids… they will end up deformed. Why bother shopping, that hole-y t-shirt from 8th grade will do… no one will see it under my lab coat. Oh wait! T-shirt? Oh no, you’ll want a parka over that. Cute shoes… forget it.

Clearly, I need to go into sales.

wee test courtesy of prernalal.com

So much to say

So much has happened since my last post it’s not even funny. I guess I’ll begin with things in reverse chronological order since it will help me chill out.

1) I just found out I got into yet another grad school. I’m pretty sure I won’t go there, but I’m going for a visit on April 10th… I’ll let you know how that pans out.

2) I ended up taking on another tutoring gig yesterday for a high school AP kid. Despite my negative experience tutoring before, this guy is a pleasure to teach! He actually WANTS to learn chemistry… he just happens to have a teacher that isn’t with it. I think he liked my tutoring style and his mom even recommended me to one of her friends who’s son is also struggling in H.S. chem. So I’m tutoring both of them (at separate times) tonight.

3) This morning I took the ACE exam. I am now certified through ACE to be a personal trainer. woo. Now I can get paid more. exciting.

4) I ended up subleasing my apartment to a guy who responded to my ad on Craigslist.
I am officially free of this place.

5) Yesterday I ended up fulfilling one of my requirements on my queue of things to do before I leave Austin. Andy and I went out for lunch at Taverna… a brilliant Italian restaurant in the heart of the warehouse district.

They have THE BEST pear stuffed gnocchi I’ve tasted. Actually, they have the best gnocchi period.

I guess that’s the bulk of what’s been happening recently… I think I’ll take a walk in this muck weather and calm down a bit.

-P

My HMO doesn’t cover chill pills.

That’s right. I’m going to have to sell a kidney at the current rate I’m stressing.

This week is not looking fun… studying for an ACE exam that I’m to take on Thursday, coupled with trying to show/sell my apartment to potential sub-leasers, along with planning the European backpacking trip of my dreams, along with added lab times for my students independent projects, training clients, and making time to do my own workouts at the gym is getting to me… and it’s only Monday!

It isn’t like any of this is particularly difficult or mentally challenging, it is just staying on top of things and not getting distracted or refraining from feelings of anxiety that are most difficult. If I can make it through till Thursday at 10 pm, I will call this week an accomplishment! I probably won’t post until Thursday afternoon anyway because I have a crap-ton of studying I need to do before then.

speaking of that devil… I should probably go do that now…

Spring is in the air!

Spring break 2009 has been wonderful! Not only did I catch up with my friends and family, but I also got a lot of knitting done! My dad ended up taking off work on a Saturday and my folks and I went to the Olive Garden. Here’s a happy photo of us!

My parents house in Houston is where I call “home”. I’m fortunate enough to live only a 2.5 hour drive away from them and visit when I can. Moving to grad school will likely not allow for such indulgences, so I’ll miss this house and all the fond memories I’ve made in it since 1991.

Another thing I’m most sad about is that the Seales are officially moving out of Houston in 2 days to Zavalla, Texas… a.k.a “the boonies”. The Seale family has been my second family that I’ve come to love as my own. I used to spend as much time at the Seales as at my own home and Lisa (Mrs.Seale) has taken on the role of being my second mother. I’m sad to say these goodbyes and I hope that some hello-es start coming my way. I’m not used to all of this change and quite frankly I’m overwhelmed by all of this. On my last evening in Houston, the ladies of my family and the Seales went out to eat and reminisced about the past.

Today I ended up driving back up to Austin and was so in love with the bluebonnets, I had to take photos!

The dog in the photo was a friendly stray dog

Now to show my apartment to potential subleasers and attempt to cut red tape…I hate leases and apartment drama.

🙁

Whew.

Today was Explore UT… again, another last for me this year. I’ve always loved helping out and volunteering at Explore UT, but this year was nice because I got to actually roam around and see all that is up at UT instead of being behind a booth and doing whatever. I had a great time and ate tons of liquid nitrogen ice cream! Yum!

On another note, I found out I got into Purdue’s grad programme… they are ranked #1 in A-chem. After perusing the internets, I don’t know if I really want to go there so much. I’m still going to check it out. We’ll see. It looks like I’m pwning the state of Indiana now though. 😉
I’ve been doing some serious web-stalking of this guy. I really really REALLY want to work for him (this is before I’ve met him) and hopefully he’s as nice in person as his research is on paper!

Not too much else is up around here. I finally got my new Beehouse teapot in the mail (I stole it on ebay for $3) and it is just waiting for me to wash and use it!

I’ve also gotten the DMB song ‘Crush’ in my head so if I suddenly burst into song, don’t mind me… if you can’t tell what I’m singing, this song is it.

-P

Weekend recap

Yesterday I ended up going to the Zilker park 81st annual kite festival. I ended up having a great time, I built a kite, and even won a hula hoop contest! I ended up parking the car at Whole Foods and then just walked down to the park and hung out watching the kites getting tangled up and the dogs chasing the kites and all. It was a lot of fun and I’m sad to say it will probably be my last kite festival here in Austin. Below are a few photos from yesterday, but you can see more here.


After that, I ended up going to watch the movie He’s Just Not that Into You. It was a good movie for laughs and I had a fun time watching it at the Alamo Drafthouse.

I guess that is all for now, hopefully the days in March stay as pretty as they have been these past couple of days!