June 24th, 2009

PHD: Vortex

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of an Advanced Degree

So I’ve been meaning to make a post of any kind, and more importantly a massive life update. I’m taking advantage of the fact that the power has been shut off* in the condo to sit down and write this.
*No, it’s not that we didn’t pay our bills, we’re just having work done on the A/C power hook-ups on the roof.

Starting out with the academic front: there’s been lots of good and bad points this year.

+ Revised a paper with Becky on which I’m 3rd author and it’s been submitted to a journal for publication. This is the majority of the work I did with her at Wash U from 2004-2005, and thus I really would love to see it published.

- This paper was initially rejected from a different journal on, what seemed to all involved, less than sufficient reasons. I think some revisions and clarifications would have been enough, but the editor didn’t see it that way. It’s a bummer because this journal would have had a wider impact than the journal we just sent it to.

+ Finished my trial research project after a whirlwind process of planning what the project would be. And there were some interesting results that fit into my idea about preschool children’s thinking and talk about location.

- The paper is still not in a publishable state, and will need a lot of work and more data to get there. In writing up the paper and making it into a presentation, I realized that one of my RAs had absolutely no idea what she was doing and her data (despite having only done 1 subject) really skew some of the results.

+ I think I’ve figured out how to discriminate between prepositions (now “spatial relational terms”) and “place names” for my research in a meaningful way. Collapse )

- I didn’t finish my MA this year because the 2 classes I still need to take ended up not being offered. One because my advisor ended up getting really really sick and missing most of Winter quarter, and thus not wanting to teach in the Spring quarter. Which threw me into a really odd situation, not really knowing what was going to happen to me as her only grad student.

+ I now have an emergency plan in place to easily change advisors should my current advisor take a turn at the mortal coil shuffle. A little unnerving to need an emergency plan, but I’ve got one, so yay.

- I’m finding myself undermotivated. And it’s really a problem that I’m having a hard time snapping out of. I’m hoping that this summer I can really devote to getting back on track.

- I feel like my lack of motivation is only being spurred on by the fact that my advisors can’t manage to get in the same room so I can defend my project and be done with it. It’s really frustrating, and I feel like “If they don’t have time for a 30 minute meeting to talk about my project, why do I need to put so much effort into it?” But that’s a stupid way of looking at it, and I know it.

OK, wow, that was long. I don’t think the rest of this will be as long.

Wedding stuff! Things are starting to fall into place. We hit a long time where we thought everything was taken care of. Only to realize about a month ago that we had NOTHING PLANNED! Sure we had a photographer, but we need a list of the pictures we want to be taken. Sure we have a DJ, but we don’t know what songs to play for which dances. We have someone to be the officiant and we’re doing a wine and chocolate ceremony, but beyond that, we haven’t written the wedding ceremony.

It’s all the little details of actually having a wedding, and it’s really fucking stressful. Unfortunately, Laura and I have the same reaction to stress, avoiding the whole damn thing. Which really doesn’t accomplish anything. Anybody else want to do this for us? I’ll pay well :)

All that being said, I can’t wait to marry Laura, it’s really weird to think that in 74 days I’ll be her husband. I know that nothing will really change about our relationship, which I think is probably the best part.

Well, School and Wedding are pretty much devouring my life at this point. So I guess I’ll leave it there.

Expect more frequent updates now that the Sword of Damocles isn’t hanging over my head so much with school.


USA 2-0 Spain

Most of you reading this probably couldn't care less, but Team USA Soccer just shut out Spain in the FIFA Confederations Cup semifinal. Ever since being in England during the '06 World Cup, I've fallen in love with international soccer.

There are many reasons why this win by the US was huge:
1. After showing a total lack of heart in opening losses to Italy (3-1) and Brazil (3-0), the US needed a miracle just to make the semis. They defeated the African champions Egypt (3-0) while Brazil shut-out Italy by the same score for the US to advance having scored more goals than Italy (you can argue that the tie-breaking process is lame, but it is what it is)

2. Spain is the #1 ranked team in the world. The USA has only won one other match in history against a top-ranked team was 1998 against Brazil. This game ended some huge streaks for Spain: 35-game unbeaten streak (ties a world record), 15-game winning streak (set a new world record), had not given up a goal in the first 3 games of the tournament.

3. USA was out-shot 11-4 by a talented Spanish squad, but made good on its only 2 shots on goal while keeper Tim Howard made 6 spectacular saves for the shut-out, despite being under heavy fire the entire 90 minutes.

Awesome, simply awesome. Team USA advances to its first final in a FIFA tournament ever against the winner of South Africa/Brazil.

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