Wednesday, July 15, 2009


We have been working on our yard a lot lately. Raking dirt, getting rid of rocks and weeds to prepare for sod. I did the weeding on Canada day, it was very hot out and although I was wearing loads of sunscreen, I forgot about my lower back where your shirt lifts up slightly when you are sitting forward. As a result, I ended up with a 2 inch burn just above my pant line on my back. I was so sore from all the hard work that I didn't even notice until I jumped in the shower, blasting the hot water to relax my muscles and scalded my burn something fierce.

Last weekend we built a retaining wall for a small flower garden in the front of the house (you can't really see it in the pic), and planted some trees on Saturday night. Then we put down sod on Sunday morning. Surprisingly, this did not take very long at all and we were done around lunch time.

Here is the final result. It really makes a different from just having dirt everywhere doesn't it?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

busy bee

I'm in Toronto right now, mingling a bunch of physicists, not as bad as I thought it would be. But not fun either. We went out for a "mixer" last night, which lasted one beer and I was back at the hotel by 10. Not my typical conference routine, but I've still got many legs of the trip to go.

I'll be meeting my group in Quebec city for a few days and things should pick up. So I might as well get my rest.

Yesterday I did some shopping (new shoes!). And today I'm continuing my quest for spanx since they will make wedding dress shopping a little more enjoyable.

On the notes of weddings... lots has happened in the last few days...

I booked the venue on Thursday. It's very nice - a historical building that has been converted to a restaurant. They have a large front yard to accomodate an outdoor wedding, and in the event of rain, can move the wedding inside. There are a couple of smaller rooms for kids to eat in and gifts and stuff, so I'm quite happy with it.

We have decided to do a casual wedding, no dance, no speaches, just mingling with good friends over good food. It takes place on a Sunday in August, and is followed by a lunch reception. My supervisor has eaten there before and says the food is fantastic (he's quite the foodie, so I trust his opinion). The venue itself can be quite expensive, but is within our budget on a Sunday afternoon (1/4 the minimum for a Friday/Saturday evening).

We also booked a photographer, and looked at dresses. Ahhh! so much stuff!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I finally have some breathing room. I've been running around in the lab like crazy working on controls for our paper revisions (which are due tomorrow BTW). Two weeks of working 14 hour days 6 days a week, plus another 5 on my off day, was killing me. After all the experimentation dust settled, I nested in my office chair and began the data analysis. My hamstrings have never been so tight, just from sitting for so long!

To make a long and stressful story, short and less stressful, I finished working up the last of the data yesterday (which I also collected yesterday) and sent the last additional figure to Supervisor. Over the week I've been sending him figures as I finish them, so he could work on the rebuttal.

Today I reviewed the supplemental material he wrote, and I'm very happy with it. He's currently adjusting the main body of the manuscript and I should receive that later today to look over. Tomorrow we send it off. Hopefully, this will shut up the mean reviewers trap. Actually, we did most of the new controls to answer nice reviewer's points (who may or may not be my idol WRT my project- though Supervisor and I are both leaning to may). While, Supervisor just schooled mean reviewer on the important aspects of the technique we use.

So overall, I'm now happier with the whole thing. I even got some marking done last night, looks like my students will recieve their reports on time afterall!

On another note, our department allows gradstudents to rank their top 2 teaching choices for each semester. Obviously, some courses are better than others. Right now I'm teaching a course that probably isn't the easiest and doubtfully anyone's first choice. I teach it because the prep is minimal since I've taught it last year, and before that a friend of mine in my group taught it. I get along witht he lab/course cooridinator very well, he's very preceptive to our ideas, and we have made many changes in the labs over the last 2 years. The downside is, he is not teaching the course next year, and another prof will be taking over. She's less hands on (aka indifferent, aka lazy), so I see very little interaction with her. This is also the first time she is teaching this course, she normally teaches the higher level class.

Another negative, the marking. There's tons of it. Even though my prep is minimized from previous experience, I found that the course still takes up tons of my time. This semester, I've only been able to get into the lab 1 maybe 1.5 days a week. I want to start rolling on some of my ideas. Since I'm not on scholarship, I'll still need to teach, to you and stuff. So. I've been talking to Supervisor and ran my great idea past him. He's the director of a new program in our faculty, it offers a minor in a specifice science subfield. This program is pretty much his baby at the moment. This semester he offered the first class, the goal of the whole program is to approach teaching in a different way. It focuses on inquiry based learning and the lectures tend to be ~15 min lecture on some new idea, followed by 50 mins group work on a term project. The project itself usually is a novel way to design or use the "star" in this particular subfield. The TA's for the course attend the lectures, and walk around the rest of the lecture answering questions and helping the students with the formulation of their ideas, they mark weekly quizes, and I think are responsible for marking one question on the exams. Pretty easy work load. Plus, this subfield that the program is focused on, yea...we do that in our group, so I'm pretty comfortable with the material.

Supervisor agreed and will get me his courses assigned to my teaching schedule next year. He will be teaching the same course that is currently being offered (an intro course) in the fall, and a more advanced instrumental course in the winter. We are still in the design phase of the instrumental course, so that will be part of my teaching duties, to help design the course. Basically, how can we teach instrumentation to promote inquiry learning, we'll be drumming up (aka inventing) some interesting problems/case studies/plot lines to accomplish that. I'm really looking forward to it.

Other than that, I'm still collecting data for my upcoming conference, at the end of April. The day before the conference starts, I'm organizing a seminar series in the city where my conference is held. I'm organizing a summer school in May and then I'm off to another conference.

May will be insane, lots of traveling in a short amount of time. I think I'll bask in the opprotunity to breathe while I still have it...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I deleted my blog awhile back, I'm not sure why, I just did it.
I have been reading all the blogs that I used to, I just didn't want to post anything myself.

I suddenly wanted to start blogging again, so I'm back.

Maybe it's because of the stress thats all bottled up and I need a place to put it all before my head explodes.

So, If you are still out there...Hello!

I guess I can start with a few updates on life in general:

J and I are enjoying our new home, but theres not many developments or homes in our neighbourhood right now so it's pretty exposed. We get lots of wind. It howls like crazy at night, sometimes it's hard to sleep and the dogs hate it. They are pretty happy being indoor dogs and really only like going outside when it's nice out. The wind blows their long floppy ears all about and its enough to make both pups stop dead in their tracks on the front step.

I have not really done any wedding planning at all. J and I have decided to try to keep it casual and instead of a formal dinner dance, we are going to have a lunch reception and no dance (no one ever dances anyways). I've thought about some places and I think I'm going to check out the front runner early this summer.

Things have been crazy busy with school, like it always is this time of year. When I'm still teaching, and am trying to organize a million things, and collect data for all the up coming conferences. Needless to say, I'm stressed and my knotted back is proof.

I'm having lots of days were I'm feeling so overwhelmed that I don't know what to do with myself, and other days were I'm feeling alright with everything, like I've got a good handle on things. I don't understand how I can go from one extreme to another in 24 hours.

Today I think I'm doing ok.

I got the reviews back from my first first authored paper, last week. They were split. One reviewer was generally positive with some areas of concern which we can address with out too much difficulty. The other reviewer pretty much thought it everything we did was shit and recommended rejection (it was kinda harsh). My supervisor isn't too concerned and thinks that with a couple of quick controls we'll be able to complete the revisions in no time. This is the first time I really had to come to face really negative comments on my work. It was clear though the not so nice reviewer didn't really understand the technique that we use. It's been around for I dunno 35 years and there's lots of groups that use it, so I'm not sure why this reviewer can't accept that yes, it works.

So yea, Supervisor sent me the comments as a "skin thickening" exercise. I think I handled it ok, it did keep up the first night, thinking about the paper. But now I think that with the new controls I did, we can refute some of the reviewers comments (the mean one) and we can discuss a little bit more on some things for the other reviewer (the nice one) and hopefully things will swing our way in the end.

How do you get used to bad reviews? It seems so harsh. Do you think people are more candid and harsh because it's annoymonus?