I’ve been chugging along on it, which is why I haven’t been posting. I have successfully (in principle) completed my experiment. It feels good to shut off the noisy equipment.

I’ve begun the analysis, which is a bit time consuming. The time is up to the strength of the computer/amount of data there is to process. There is indeed a lot of data to process. We’re using Mathematica, which is interesting and a big learning process. I have novice skills with Mathematica, but I’ve never loaded data with it and tried to process stuff. My advisor has created some programs in Mathematica to ease the process, but going through someone’s code is difficult. Everyone has their own lingo and inherit understanding. My advisor, unlike me, tends to not declare variables outside the functions (just straight up puts the numbers in and remembers to change them accordingly) and comment. I find it challenging to figure it out and then modify it for my ease.

I’m really working on hustling this out. Since my advisor goes on vacation soon, I want to ship him out with a first draft of my thesis. With him gone for 2 weeks, I figure I can take a break. Also, he may (I don’t know how much work he plans on doing during his vacation) be able to send corrections to me via email. Besides completing data analysis (should be finished with a lot of it on Sunday), I’m a bit held up with the theory section. I like using original papers, because sometimes books write in a way that I’m not sure if the idea is from the book’s author or the famous paper the book’s author is writing about. Unfortunately, the original papers are often in foreign languages and the translated ones are hard to get (not available via Google Scholar).

I’ll hopefully be able to write some more, but right now, my life is mainly my thesis, teaching, job hunting. I’ve been able to fit in the occasional break 🙂


I’ve been running around like crazy, trying to do be a great grad student (attending thesis defenses, scrambling to complete my own research), working, and job searching.

My dance and physical activity has been put aside, unfortunately. When I do think about going to dance class, it’s hard for me to motivate myself to take a 45 min bus ride one way and go. Besides being tired, there is just so much to do here that I can’t convince myself that 2.5 hours of my time (in principle that the busses are timely) is worth it, despite me not knowing where I’ll be in a few months. I’m planning on going to it on Saturday. To myself back into it, I’ve invested in some instructional DVD. I figure that they’ll be an excellent way to practice, which I sorely need.

On the thesis front, things are marching along. My data collection has gone really well, and I should be 100% complete my early (Tuesday) of next week. The only worrisome thing is that my advisor has been summoned to jury duty. He does not know if he’ll be needed, but the way life rolls sometimes- I’m afraid he’ll be put on a jury that’ll last for months. In any case, anything longer than a day would be a problem, since my advisor is leaving sometime late July for a 2 week vacation. Part of my hustle is to send him off (he is willing to do this) with a draft of my thesis. My goal is defend during the beginning of August.

Job searching- well it is what it is. I did write a teaching statement for the job I really want. I found writing the statement challenging but also important. It helped clarify some of my thoughts and beliefs on teaching.

As for my current job, it marches along. The students are not happy campers, but it is summer school after all. I don’t imagine learning a normally 10-week course in the span of 3.5 weeks is fun, either. They seem to be understanding things fairly well, but I think they just had their first exam, so we shall see.

And how is your summer?

If I do go back to school, this isn’t my last exam ever, but it is of my MS in physics.

I think the worst part of exams is waiting to take them. I have about an hour left, but I reached the point where I realized studying won’t help. I either know it or I do not.

I’m going to miss this class a lot. I forget if I mentioned it, but I chose to take a class outside the physics department. It turned out to be a much better choice for me than I had realized. I simply didn’t want to take astrophysics and had to search for a class that wasn’t setting me up for failure and that I could get approved.

I hadn’t taken chemistry since I was a sophomore in high school. I now regret not taking it at the undergraduate level. I thought it was really interesting to see how well chemistry and physics worked together. The professor was incredibly helpful in my research; he suggested two materials that made the research happen.

More importantly, this professor has me thinking more about doing engineering and taught me a lot about the field of science. I didn’t look at physics in a rose-colored glasses way, but talking to him made me realize that I should look at the big picture and that I can get where I want to go in other ways.

Wish me luck on my exam!

Well, it partially works. The other day I ran my experiment. I came back the next day and saw something odd. What is classically thought is if we sit another fluid on the bottom (as long as gravity doesn’t hold it back), the fluid will diffuse, rising upward. What we saw with the latest run is the fluid took a very strange path; we discovered we have a mixing due to buoyancy issue. That’s bad; diffusion allegedly happens on its own; there’s supposedly no force (like buoyancy) that causes it). So part of my data is no good. I have to analyze it all, but I’m not optimistic about it.

As for the money situation with my other experiments, we’re very lucky (and I’m very relieved). One of the professors is able to get what I need from Argonne. The other thing is rather funny. My chemistry professor (I don’t recall if I mentioned I’m taking a class in chemistry but I am) and I have discussed my research project twice. Taking this class is quite fortuitous, because he knows a lot about polymers. I am more than happy to admit I know very little about them, but I also know I’m not afraid to ask for help from someone I believe knows more than I. I went to class on Tuesday (and I think I did decently on my exam), and he asked how things were going with my research. I told him we had a money issue, so we were still exploring the materials that he suggested. He then suggested that we use milk to observe the microscope stuff.

Miraculously, it worked very well. Milk is actually a colloid (particles suspended in a liquid), which is what we needed. Milk is also absolutely disgusting to look at on the molecular level; to me, it looked like maggots in something.

Other than that, my lab assistants are working well. The kid I had as a student is starting to feel useful (that’s what he said), even though I already thought he was being useful. I’ve written a small chunk of my thesis (3 pages, I believe) and will probably churn out another 3 pages within the next few days. I hear this is the hardest part, writing and motivating yourself to write. I think I’ve concluded there is absolutely no ideal weather to write in. If it’s cold, all you want to do is snuggle up in bed or sit around, sitting coffee or hot chocolate. If it’s warm, you want to be outside, enjoying the weather. However, I am going to write this weekend, no matter what.

Despite the setback, I feel like I have made progress. It’d be nice if I made more progress, but I feel like I am making some.

I just hope it all works out in the end.

Two major money woes occurred in the course of the past few days.

1. My lab’s money has just been frozen. I’m not sure why (according to my advisor, we still had half of the money allocated to us), but it has been. We have to get the department chair’s approval. What that means for me? My thesis is in a precarious situation. I have roughly 1/3 of the data collection done. We have to purchase something for another 1/3 of the experiment, and we more than likely will have to purchase something for the last 1/3. I’m worried that he may take awhile approving purchases or simply not approve them. I had asked my advisor what happens if I can’t continue with my experiments; he said that we’ll have to make the 1/3 work. I’m doubtful that will be allowed, since my thesis will be a 1/3 smaller than everyone else’s.

2. My TAing job for the summer is in jeopardy. My boss presented me with the possibility of not being hired during the summer, because I’m finished with classes. I’m still technically a student, since I haven’t defended my thesis. She has to investigate it further, but I’m very worried. I have enough in savings I could live off of, but I also didn’t want to deplete my savings without knowing what’s in store for me in the future. If I go without employment, I need something to live off of.

This all would have to occur right before my midterm. Great timing, huh?

I’m running my experiment for the second time. I didn’t announce the other time, in fear that it would be jinxed.

It feels good to be up and running. I am really starting to make some progress with my thesis. I’ve written about 2 pages (not a lot, but it’s a start) and my research assisstants are working out well. I’m glad to have their help; one of the things I’ve realized a while ago is that I can’t do everything myself. When only considering time, it’s impossible to get everything accomplished.

I think I’m at a good palce for my projected defensive date. At least I’m hoping.

One of my experiments is up and running, thank goodness. I have been running it for almost a week, and we are still waiting patiently to see data. I might let it run over the weekend; there is some concern that the fluid will float to the top and not show diffusion. I’m doubtful that’ll happen (mainy because I saw how fast things float to the top before with this experiment), but we’ll see.

While I’ve been waiting, I’ve been looking this past week at different dance forms to explore. Why? I like trying new things, and I’ve been doing Middle Eastern dance solid for a while. I’ve read various people’s thoughts about cross training in different dance forms, and I tend to side with the much favored school of cross training. I think it’s a good way to balance the body, for starters.Certain dances tend to work one part of the body extensively and not the other. Because I’m interested in fusion dance, learning the dances in their “pure form” is important. I’ve learned that if I want to some sort of tribal fusion, for instance, I need to learn the original form. Without careful instruction or observation, it’s easy to miss subtle parts of a move that polish it. I’m of the learning the original school of thought, just because “you can’t break the rules until you know them.” I also am genuinely interested in moving beautifully, and learning other dances for me has been a means of learning how to move beautifully.

Since Odissi and Bharatanatyam appear to be non-existent in Chicago without car access, I decided to seek out something else. Danielle suggested that I look into Flamenco; she herself is a Flamenco fan and huge advocate of the dance. To tell you the truth, I know very little about Flamenco. By very little, I knew it is Spanish, they wear shoes, and I believe play castanets. I still know very little, but this clip sold me on learning:

I’m not sure if it’ll be my passion, but I found the dancing in this clip gorgeous. I’m not sure if it’s good Flamenco, but I liked the dancing a lot. I take it as an excellent sign that I should learn Flamenco, because the basic class is on a Wednesday, when I used to learn veil. Veil was moved to Mondays for some reason, leaving Wednesdays free to learn Flamenco. I’m excited about learning this. I start in 2 weeks.