Friday, December 26, 2008

A good holiday

I've been in Texas for the last week, cerebrating Xmas, the Solstice,
Saturnalia and Festivus with the family. It's been pretty relaxing and
fun, and as much as I am glad to no longer live here, it has been a
nice visit. For some reason, my relationship with my parents has
improved over the last 5 years - maybe that has something to do with
getting older. Anyway, as I write this, I am sitting out by the pool
in short sleeves, half-amazed and half-amused by the fact that it is
over 70 degrees, whereas the west coast is still trying to thaw from
more than 12 days of snowfall and freezing temps. And as much as I
like a snow day or two, I have to say that this weather here is much
better.

I've been taking it easy over the course of the trip, not exercising
much (by my new standards) but keeping my fitness up by putting in
some time in the elliptical. I haven't been on a bike the whole time I
have been here. (kind of weird.) It's been a great vacation, but I am
starting to itch for a return to normalcy, and a chance to start
working toward some of the goals I have for 2009. It seems like an
opportune time to put some goals into writing here, so here we go:
Kat's 2009 goals.

1. Eat better. More on this later, but I signed up for a nutrition
program for athletes (precisionnutrition.com), which should help me
reach this goal, overcome my fear/hate of cooking, and make me a
stronger rider.

2. Ride more. I want to try to put in 200 mile weeks, but that isn't
terribly realistic given my time commitments, so let's say, 3 hours 4
days a week. More when I can, less when I have lots of other stuff
going on.

3. Join a lab and find a Ph.D advisor. This one shouldn't be too hard
considering I have a very good idea if which lab it'll be, but it's
still significant.

4. Raise a thousand dollars to fight cancer, and ride 70 miles in the
LAF LiveStrong Challenge.

5. Race cyclocross in category B, and finish in the top half of the
field at a Cross Crusade event at least once. Coming from the
Beginners field this will be hard and will require training throughout
the course of the year. But I figure I can use road season as good
training, try to get out on an MTB as much as I can, and look forward
to September and the start of next 'cross season. This is probably my
biggest riding goal of the year and will be refined and enumerated
better in the coming months.

6. Do my best in the collegiate road season. Learn to ride with a
team. Work on team time trials especially. Improve my bike handling,
cornering and descending skills, and become a better climber as well.
(ok, several goals in one, but still.)

7. Continue my weight and cross training. I am, at 25, in the best
shape of my life. Keep being able to say that for 26.

8. Drink less beer. This one shouldn't be too hard, being away from
the Elysian and from Gregg.

9. Work on my verbal communication skills, especially in teaching and
writing.

10. Give thanks to the amazing people around me who make me who I am.
Appreciate more the amazing hand I have been dealt in life and
acknowledge those who have made it possible, starting with my family
and amazing friends. If you are reading this, you are included in
this: thank you.

Happy holidays, and best wishes for a happy 2009!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

music for...

this is appropriate: listening Brian Eno's Music for Airports while
waiting to board. I wish every airport would just have this album on
repeat- it's far better than the monitors blaring CNN. People would be
in better moods everywhere.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

the internet is for this

I've missed my fuzzy bear-kitty, since she's been here in Seattle staying with Gregg for the past quarter.. I think this is her "I've missed you too" face.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

11 days until the solstice

the quarter is wrapping up, and many people are done with finals, so there's an air of relief and relaxation all around. i spent today in the saddle, mostly, which was awesome since i've been pretty much too busy to ride at all during daylight hours, and have been kind of taking a break since cyclocross season is over for me (sadly). which isn't to say i haven't been active... i just haven't been out on the road. the official milage counter hit 42 for the day, but it took us the better part of 6 hours due to flat tire situations (not mine). major props to gilad for sag-wagoning us from the outskirts of civilization... the error was not having a tube with a long enough valve stem. know your stem length, kids, and always carry an appropriate tube (or two, and a patch kit never hurts). i'm learning that you should multiply this rule for riding with people, because the more people on a ride, the more likely there will be mechanicals. it would have been faster to patch it - we ended up at the side of the road for an hour - but it was beautiful out, and sunny, so i sat by the side of the highway eating a luna bar (given in return for use of tire levers & offer of tube) and enjoying the view.

after a car ride to the shop and a new tube, we set out again, into the chilly afternoon for a loop around north eugene, including mckenzie view drive, which (as the name suggests) includes some nice views of the mckenzie river. i wish i had pictures to post, but sadly, the iphone camera does no justice whatsoever to landscapes...

it's days like this that remind me how fortunate i am: i live in a place where i can ride bikes across beautiful landscapes, through lush forests and fertile fields, over rolling hills and along rushing rivers. it's almost surreal: it's certainly quite different from seattle, or from any other place i've lived.

i think i like it here.

seattle on friday, texas next wednesday.

Friday, December 5, 2008

LIVESTRONG Challenge: help me raise funds!

Guess what? Cancer sucks. If you don't have a close relative who has had cancer, chances are several of your best friends do. Cancer therapies and survival odds are improving, thanks to research, but there is still a long way to go before we can say we've beaten cancer.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation does a lot of great work, from funding basic research on cancer and cancer survivorship to supporting cancer victims and survivors as well as their families. The work that the foundation has done is amazing, but since cancer hasn't declared defeat yet, there's still work to be done.

That's why I'm going to participate in the LAF LiveStrong Challenge in Seattle on 6/21/2009. I'm registered for the 70-mile bike ride, which is farther than I've ever ridden in a single day, and will definitely be a challenge for me physically and mentally. I'd like to ask all of you to help me in this pursuit. I have to raise at least $250 by June to be able to participate, but I really want to raise a lot more than that. I'm teaming up with Elden Nelson of Fat Cyclist, and hundreds (if not thousands) of other cyclists, runners, and people who have been affected by cancer for the 2009 LiveStrong Challenge as Team Fat Cyclist: Fighting for Susan. (Susan is Elden's wife, who has been struggling with metastatic breast cancer for a few years now. The team is named for her, but I am also riding in honor of my parents, Bill and Cindy Reinhart, who are both cancer survivors, as well as my grandma, Sally Hightower, who is currently fighting - and winning - against breast cancer.) Our collective goal is to raise a million dollars together - and if we all chip in as much as we can, we can easily exceed that. Even if you can only donate $5, every little bit adds up!

To help out, visit my fundraising page (also linked in the sidebar) and donate now, donate later, donate early and donate often! It's all tax-deductible and all goes directly to the LAF to help people with cancer. (Registration fees, which I have already paid, cover the event overhead.) Give $1 or $100, every bit helps!

Thanks for your help!

Monday, December 1, 2008

New wheelset!

Campy Veloce, campy skewers,mavic cxp22 rims. $140 inc. shipping. Win!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Psycho Cross #4

I did it! I finally won a race.

OK, so my competitors were two women I've beaten repeatedly in the past and one woman who had never done a 'cross race before. But that doesn't take anything away from my victory... or maybe it does.

I've decided I'm going to stick with the Beginner category through the end of this season, and next year, i'll start riding with the big girls in category B. And this season I may win another race, but i probably won't at all next year.

Oh well - it's clear to me how much stronger I am now than even in September, and much more so than this time last year. It's a good feeling.

home again (quickie)

343 unread items on my google reader
12:23 AM
1:30 PM race start tomorrow
2.5 hours past bedtime
7 hours on the train
2 bags to unpack
1 minor mechanical to do before race tomorrow

1 sleepy kat

make that 344 unread items. goodnight.

Monday, November 24, 2008

vacation!

Leaving tomorrow morning for Seattle - I'll be there until Saturday. It'll be so great to have a vacation! I'm bringing background papers to read, but no computer - which means no movie processing, no excel data crunching, and no powerpoint assembly. Vay cay shun.

This is a quickie, since I've barely begun to pack, let alone prep my bike for gear haulin' and rain ridin' rather than mud racin'. To rack or not to rack? To fender is no question - turkey week in the SEA almost certainly spells RAIN.

Looking forward to Thanksgiving at the home of two of my very good friends, Chris and Jenn. They are both awesome. Also awesome are all the other people who will be there - I don't have the full guest list, but I know Rogelio, my favorite Mexican, will be there, and am sure there will be others - all people I miss tons and can't wait to see. We'll all have to chip in to drink enough for Jenn, since they're expecting a baby girl in March!

Anyway, back to packing. Hooray for vacation!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

late november already?

So somehow time has been passing, and it's almost Thanksgiving. How the hell did that happen? I'm still adjusting to the idea of it being fall instead of summer, and now it's almost winter. What gives??

Yesterday was the third 'cross race in the Eugene series. Only 4 beginner women showed up, and I managed 2nd place out of the 4, coming across the finish line about 50 feet behind the winner. If I hadn't dropped my chain after the first barrier on the first lap, I might have been able to stay on her wheel and maybe pass her before the end. Oh well. I seem to manage to drop my chain pretty often during races - always either after barriers or run-ups. I think that when I put together my new 'cross bike for next season, I'm going to go with a 1x9 setup, with just one chainring and no front derailer. This means I can put chain guards on either side of the chainring and pretty much prevent chain drops. No chain drops means no swearing after barriers. I definitely let out a "Fuuh" before I saw that there was an under-10-year-old right there. Oops - sorry, Dad!

Anyway, by my calculations (based on OBRA BAR points awarded for placement in the Eugene series races), I'm currently leading the women's beginner category for the series, despite never having won a race. There are still 2 races left in the series, though, so I have a chance to get a first-place finish, and even if I don't, I'll still feel like I accomplished something. Next season, I'll upgrade to the B category, which means no more top-half finishes unless I work my butt off training.

OK, back to work: analyzing movies of filet-prepped larvae. Trying to confirm that my genetic scheme is actually expressing tetanus toxin in the neurons I think it is - judging by lack of activation of the muscles they innervate. This means staring at movies, inserting reference points, and trying to determine whether there's a difference between the contractions seen in muscles innervated by neurons expressing the toxin versus neurons expressing an inactive version of the toxin. Off to the computer lab - my powerbook can't handle the movies I'm making.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

book mini-review: quantum neurobiology edition

On a recent (though not the most recent) trip to Portland, I had the chance to stop in to Powell's Books (indeed, what's the point of going to Portland if you can't go to Powell's?). Despite having had several drinks earlier in the evening (or perhaps because of it) I picked up two interesting-seeming books; when I got home from the trip, however, I lost interest or got busy and set them aside. I picked one of them up again soon, and in the intervening time, however, I've been able to finish the first and get about a quarter of the way into the second, and am going to spend some time tonight working my way through the second book. They're fairly similar, despite having been published a decade apart, and extremely timely, despite one being 17 years old.

The first is Information in the Brain: A Molecular Perspective by Ira B. Black. It's an enormous book, despite only being 225 pages (including references and index) - so it's going to take perhaps a whole re-reading to fully understand, but it's basically a great overview of neural signal transduction and how molecules store information. The most salient argument to me is his assertion that biology is behavior and behavior is biology - that there is no delineation between the metabolism of an organism and its behavioral output. The book was published in 1991, so many of the questions he has no answer for have been solved by now, but it's still a wonderfully compact (though dense) introduction to the way brains store and recall information, and an unprecedented synthesis of ideas that any student of developmental or molecular neurobiology should read.

The second is Jeffrey Satinover's The Quantum Brain, with a subtitle sufficiently new-agey to scare away most serious readers, I'm guessing: "The search for freedom and the next generation of man." Smells like woo, right? But so far, it's pretty interesting, and he definitely backs up his claims with good science. It's from a much more computational/AI/systems approach, as opposed to the cellular approach of Black... I'm not far along enough to make a judgement about the quality of the content, but I'm finding the AI/computational/theoretical approach informative, if a bit abstract. From the introduction, I'm guessing that he plans to have a thing or two to say about how these ideas relate to (and redefine) "God"... and the woo alarms will be ringing when this happens, but hopefully he'll save it for the conclusion and leave it at a philosophical discussion.

Anyway, I'll have more to say about both these books in the future, and hopefully will make some sort of insightful tie between the two that will be interesting and informative. On the other hand, I might decide that the Satinover book is just a bunch of hooey (this is the author of a book entitled Cracking the Bible Code - seriously?)... we'll see. I can say that so far, neither of the authors have addressed the problem of how brains form in the first place; I have my own opinions about trying to understand the brain without first understanding its development, though many disagree with me.

(The only thing better than reading for pleasure: Reading for work (ok, indirect work) and pleasure simultaneously! I love it!)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

cross crusade #8

Just got home (maybe 45 minutes ago) from Portland, or actually Hillsboro, where I raced in the last Cross Crusade race of the season. It was on the county fairgrounds, so the course wound through and between barns, over a big pile of hay, and through the rodeo arena - which, incidentally, was filled with ankle-deep mud that ranged from brown water to sticky shite-like consistency. Parts of the rest of the course was also muddy, but it was a nice coherent mud that wasn't really too hard to ride through - it was just a few hundred yards of slog right before the finish line. Fortunately, I only had to do 3 laps, and the elite women only managed 4 in 45 minutes. It was flat, but not particularly fast. Good times, though... I ended up finishing 12th [edit: 14th]in the Beginner category (yes, I race as a beginner, because there are only categories A, B, and beginner... I'm not fast enough to race with the B's, and I've never won a race so I can't be accused of sandbagging...) - the biggest field I've ever raced in with 72 women just in the beginners category. So I figure 12/72 = 1/6... not horrible at all.

Anyway, I'm just blogging while I wait for the washer to finish so I can hop in the shower (I've made the mistake of starting a load and then getting in the shower - not a good idea) and get the rest of this mud off of myself. I still have a few speckles on my arms and a bunch on my legs - even after hosing off. Riding through 6" deep puddles and running through 6" deep mud will get you messy.

Which reminds me of a theory I have about 'crossesrs: we're all just a bunch of kids at heart, who love playing in the mud. After the women's race wrapped up, a few members of the aptly-named Team Beer pulled out a - i kid you not - a Slip'n'Slide. And proceeded to lube it up with baby oil and take turns. As she was unfolding the tarp, one of the women read off the label printed on the vinyl: "Not for adult use."

"That's OK, I don't see any adults here" shot out of my mouth. The other two women looked around, we all shrugged our shoulders, and agreed - no adults present. Problem solved - and Team Beer slip'n'slide open for business. (No, I didn't... yes, I should have.)

Just another of the many, many reasons why I absolutely fucking love this sport.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

big party fun time

Friday night, 9:30 PM. Getting ready to call it a night. I'm signed up to help the cycling team clean up the basketball court tonight at 10 (ten freaking pm, yes), but I'm going to be a big old flake tonight because I am home and warm and it is cold outside, and I don't have the willpower to make myself kit up for cold, dark riding right now and ride through the poorly-lit park not once but twice, once before ten and again sometime close to midnight, to have the pleasure of sweeping popcorn off the gym floor and cleaning up other people's soda cups. Call me selfish, call me lazy... I am both of those things, for sure. And tonight, I'm going to curl up in bed before ten o'clock and sleep in until after 9 before going in to work and tackling lab reports. (I thought 40 was intimidating and hard to tackle - they've doubled! Ack! Oh god, I sound like Cathy! Double ack!)

Add to that the fact that the people I work with in the lab have been fighting a nasty cold-like thing for the past few weeks, and it's been going around, and I so far have remained immune but can just feel the tickle in my throat. My remedy: Elysian Night Owl (in moderation - like maybe a pint tonight), a spicy curry dinner, some Emergen-C, and good old sleep.

Can't get sick now; must race 'cross in portland on sunday. Bedward ho. Sorry, guys... I'll help again next time, I promise.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the wonders of the interwebs

Just spent an hour and a half reading about the Korean DMZ on wikipedia. Well, I didn't spend the whole time on the DMZ, there was also the articles on Korea, Division of Korea, and Pyongyang, and the Google Earth flyby of the DMZ and all civilization in the vicinity; looking at photos of the area and marveling at the uniformity of the housing. It's pretty incredible that I can sit here, in my bedroom, and see the houses and buildings and roads of one of our worst enemies. (Something tells me Kim Jong-Il had an aneurysm when he found out about Google Earth. Seriously, isn't it time for him to die or something?)

I'm feeling guilty for spending so much time just dicking around on the internet (it was a matter of national security! really!) but I have a hard time working for more than about 8 or 10 hours a day, and I didn't get home from lab until after 7; technically, making and eating dinner and spinning on the rollers* while watching rachel maddow, don't technically count as work, but I still felt like I needed some down time afterward. The guilt stems not from feeling like I haven't gotten enough done today (crunched a bunch of data and made a couple of nice graphs; took a bunch of confocal pictures; answered several student questions; virgined flies); it's more from the fact that I haven't graded the students' lab reports from last week, and they're turning in a new batch tomorrow and will undoubtedly want the old ones back. I mean to quit procrastinating, eventually, I really do. I think I'll start tomorrow... sigh. I'll try to have the lab reports done by lecture on Thursday....

Add to that a first wave of grad student anxiety: OHMYGOD what if my project doesn't work what if everyone in the lab doesn't like me what if the professor is unimpressed with my work what if the students all hate me and don't learn a thing from this class what if i can't ever do molecular biology what if i get depressed and fail out of grad school WHAT IF WHAT IF AAAAUGH.

Deep breath; stop stressing.

We're in week 7 of the quarter now; the easy part is over and everything is in high gear and stress levels are high. On the other hand (and this is the main reason why I *love* quarters and think I'd hate semesters), the end is in sight now: make it through this week and next, and then it's Thanksgiving; after that, there's just one week of classes before finals. And then - sweet, sweet winter break.

It's weird, being a student again, again; being a grad student still feels strange too. I think I like it. I also think that I like teaching, but I'm pretty sure that I hate grading. And really, isn't that why I just spent an hour and a half of precious time studying North Korean economic geography, and now more than half an hour writing a blog post? Shouldn't I be grading? Or sleeping? Hmm, come to think of it... if sleeping is productive, I'm going to go get shit done.

*rollers: extremely precarious contraption which enables one to ride a bicycle indoors. Not to be confused with a stationary trainer, which imprisons the rear wheel and keeps the bike upright; rollers come with the risk of suddenly finding yourself traveling at 20 mph in the living room should your attention lapse for a fraction of a second.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

another rainy sunday

First: WE DID IT! We elected Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States. For the first time, i voted for the winning guy for president; I also did my (small) part during the campaign, giving what I could in cash money to help the guy win. After 8 long years, we can finally get to work repairing this country and pointing her in the right direction.

Second: Quick race report. Went up to Salem yesterday to ride 'cross at Battle Creek, a former golf course that has now become quite overgrown. The course was flat and fast, and quite muddy in parts. I ended up placing 4th out of 18 women in the Beginner category; helped, no doubt, by the presence of real actual *beginners* - like, "this is my first bike race" beginners. Great to see so many women out - cyclocross is definitely getting more popular among women as well as men. And, keeping with my "strategy" from the past few races, I "allowed" the winner of the A category to lap me close to the end of her 5 laps, and thus didn't have to do another lap. An excellent strategy, though it won't continue to serve me well if I'd like to improve, or (gasp!) upgrade to category B someday.

On the to-do list for today:
#1. Wash my bike from yesterday. Pictures will follow to show just how muddy we got. I washed myself, but the Surly has become encrusted with mud since I was too tired yesterday to wash it.
#2. Ride the Xtracycle in to Eugene and buy a set of rollers off of a guy. With winter almost here, I think I'll want to have a way of riding indoors on days when it is too wet and/or too dark to get out for a good ride.
#3. Go pick up trash with the UO crew after a volleyball game. Evidently we (aka the team) gets paid if we do this. Shouldn't be too hard to go throw some cups and candy wrappers in the trash...

And, almost certainly:
#4. Try out the new rollers; try not to kill myself while learning how to ride on them.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

sunday (sunday sunday!)

Took today off from almost everything; even though I was up by 10 and was moderately productive, it still feels like a lazy day. We're into the dark days of the winter now: with the time change today it's now dark by 5:30. And although I'm closer to the equator while Seattle is closer to the north pole, I can't really tell the difference in day length. Maybe at the solstice it'll be more obvious.

Here's something really cool: Images of the brain by DTI.

DTI, or diffusion tensor imaging, is based on detecting diffusion vectors of water molecules within the brain. The coolest thing about it is that it's noninvasive: you can get an extremely detailed picture of white-matter connections in a living subject relatively easily. Read the full article at MIT Technology Review. There's some awesome brain eye candy in the article; it's worth it just for the pictures. (via SEED daily zeitgeist)

On the edge of my seat waiting for the election to be over... everyone, remember to VOTE! (Duh.) Got my fingers crossed for a better outcome than 2004...

it's fall in Oregon

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

no future for you

Just got my hands on Buffy Season 8, volume 2. I haven't kept up with the comic, but I bought the first paperback volume in December and loved it. Needless to say, I'm excited to read this one. Must resist temptation to read it all tonight.

In the same box (thank you Amazon Free Shipping, for always making me get two instead of just one), I got a new Ghost in the Shell manga (at least I think it's new). "Human-Error Processing." Supposedly takes place in the America of the dystopia that any GITS fan is familiar with; some new characters and some old, as far as I can tell, and undoubtedly plenty of explosions, cybercrime and hot chicks in skinsuits. Because you can always count on those things from Masamune.

A little junk food for the brain can't hurt; it's not like I haven't been working hard lately. Trying to commit as seriously as I am able to cycling and training this winter; next spring will be my first season ever competing as an intercollegiate athlete (from a Division I school; not, however, NCAA) and so I want to do my best - which means a training schedule. And on top of that, there is the more-than-full-time job of being a grad student: impromptu office hours with a student today led to a light bulb moment (which always feels great to any teacher, I'm sure); a lesson in fly genetics taught me to distinguish a really tricky phenotypic marker. It has to do with counting the hairs (yes, I am serious) on the shoulder of an adult fly. I have to hand it to my post-doc/mentor: after 5:00, I hadn't eaten since lunch, and the difference in phenotype is subtle... combine low blood sugar with frustration at finding differences between flies: not at my best to be sure. Anyway, I think I got it; progress is on the march. Hooray for science!

Now, to bed, and to find out what the hell Faith has been up to since they blew up Sunnydale.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

flying by

It's already the end of October, and the election is just over a week away... where has the time gone?

It must be passing so quickly because I'm so damn busy. I love being busy, though - it keeps me productive and sane. When I'm not busy, I tend to get lazy - it's kind of an all-or-nothing approach, I guess.

Anyway, school is going well so far. My rotation work has me working pretty hard, but I am really enjoying the work, and learning a lot. Flies are very different from fish - the turnover of generations is so much faster, you have to really maintain your stocks in an active way. I'm having trouble getting into the rhythms of fly pushing, but I think it'll come eventually. I've got a pretty large data set so far on behavioral analysis, and have acquired but not processed confocal images of the expression of various driver lines I'm using. The idea is to then cross these driver lines to a line carrying a latent tetanus toxin gene, creating expression of the toxin in a subset of neurons, effectively silencing them. The ultimate goal is to understand the genetic control of neuronal circuit formation during development. Pretty awesome, if you ask me. Anyway, that's my research summary for now.

Then there's the other half (ok, much less than half in terms of hours spent) of my life these days: the bicycle. I went for my first ride with the whole UO team yesterday, and had fun. We put on about 35 miles as a group, pushing my daily total (including commute) to a little over 40 miles. I think that's the biggest day I've had since moving here. Got to see a few more of the roads around the area, and got some ideas for changing up my routine solo ride. (The scenery is beautiful on the route I usually take, but something tells me it'll be nice to vary the ride up a bit come November, December, January, February...) Here's the ride we did yesterday.

Today turned into an off-day, due to a missed connection for an afternoon ride. Probably good to take a day off, though, since my plan is to start upping my training for the next few weeks in order to do better at the next 'cross series races in late November. (22nd and 30th; see flier here; come race or just yell and ring a cowbell if you're in the area!) My goal is 3rd in the series, since 1st and 2nd have pretty much been decided unless the promoters enforce a category change for these two women; they're both sandbaggers, as far as I can tell.

Also considering doing the LiveSTRONG Challenge in Seattle next June. Say what you will about Lance and believe what you want about his past; it's inarguable that the LAF does a lot of good in the fight against cancer. And let's face it, cancer sucks. Expect more about that in the future - I'll have to raise some funds to be able to participate, so I'll be begging for money out here in blogging-land as well as IRL.

Anyway, that's the sum of it for right now. Bicycles and science, onward ho!

Monday, October 20, 2008

one more thing

I just wanted to send some love Elden's way: if any of you ever read Fat Cyclist you may know that his wife, Susan, is struggling with metastatic cancer, and things have taken a turn for the worse lately.

As I saw on a T-shirt a few months ago: Cancer sucks. Our thoughts are with your family in these trying times.

rainy monday; not so bad though

First, a few shameless plugs: If you don't already, you can follow my twitter and my Google Reader shared items page. I tend to update both of these more often than I blog, so if you need minute-to-minute updates, there you go. Also, you can admire my racing results here. Because I'm awesome.

Anyway, today was fairly good for a rainy Monday; the crappy weather kept me inside during the day in order to get some science (and grading... uuugh) done. Primary antibodies are incubating overnight; secondaries go on tomorrow, then I'm signed up on the confocal for Friday PM. Guessing I'll probably end up spending some time on there on Saturday and/or Sunday as well... confocaling is awesome, and I'll get a bunch of pretty pictures for my rotation talk. I also need to start remembering to bring my hard drive home at night (and install Office on this machine) so I can process movie files at home. I come home for dinner most nights, and don't generally feel like going back into work once I'm home, but I tend to end up sitting at my computer most of the night anyway, so I might as well be doing something productive. Since a lot of what I'm doing with Excel is what I like to call "data munching" - that's different from crunching, mind you - it'd be nice to have the better processor and bigger screen real estate than my little lappy.

Another reason today was better than an average rainy Monday: I met up with several of the UO cycling women this evening with the intent of going for a ride, but as soon as we started riding it started raining, so we headed to Maire's house for coffee and talked about bikes, riding, racing, training, and everything in between. It was fun to get to chat and get to know people, and it was really nice to have Lisa there, to impart all her wisdom and glory to the new generation. Lisa Turnbull is currently finishing her dissertation in the biology department, and then, rumor has it, is going to start riding pro. She's an amazingly strong rider, and also a really nice person. She won't be doing the collegiate circuit races this year, so it's up to the rest of us to step up and win some races for the Ducks this year. Wouldn't we look awesome in these jerseys?

Almost done grading papers - less than 10 lab reports left. Not horrible grades on the whole, but I'm being pretty lenient - it's obvious that lots of people didn't understand the directions or missed something in the lab protocol.

Bleh. Anyway, time to cycle laundry and take a shower. If I get up early enough tomorrow, I can go ride some really fun hills...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

please hold...

new keyboard is on order.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

quick one

since my space bar is not improving, i need a new keyboard like STAT, a quick link sesh:

must read: make-believe maverick
highlight: "According to witnesses, McCain grew enraged, raising his hand as if to strike her before pushing her wheelchair away."

unrelated: today's ride. think i'll be doing the loraine-bailey hill-18th loop regularly - it's quite nice.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sundays are no longer Slow

I met up with a couple of other first-year grad students (both women, one artist and one chemist) for a fun training ride this morning around 11. After a minor mechanical, we were on the road - it's amazing how fast you can get out of town and into great road riding territory here. Also, the cars are pretty used to cyclists and are therefore more courteous - usually giving the whole lane, even though we were on the shoulder most of the time.

It was a good ride, but we kept a pretty hard pace for a good deal of the ride, somewhere around 22 mph on the flat sections. I felt like I had trouble keeping up at some points. On the other hand, even though I'm pretty sure they are both stronger than I am right now, we seemed evenly matched enough that I could keep up... though I was definitely a wheelsucker when I could and rarely pulled the whole train, I wasn't the slowest climber. I had fun and got a great workout, and we followed the ride up with a french toast feast! I think we've started a new tradition here.

Aaaaand... classes start tomorrow! Time to see what life is *really* going to be like here. Think it'll go well... got my fingers crossed.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

technological failures and such

I've been a bit light on the blogging due to computer difficulties: it seems the sugary liquid I spilled in my keyboard a few months ago is coming back to haunt me, and the space bar has become very sticky and occasionally broken. I'm going to have to pony up for a new one soon, as these aren't very easy to take apart to clean, and the prevailing thought among people I've polled is that the keyboard-in-dishwasher trick probably isn't good for a wireless keyboard. I'm over the whole wireless keyboard thing anyway; all it does is suck up batteries and keep one cord off my desk. Same goes for the wireless mouse: Its batteries are dead and I'm using my old Logitech, which incidentally has a functional scroll wheel, but is a bit spotty on tracking sometimes.

On the bright side, it is looking like my laptop is going to be fine*! Hooray! My housemate Nick is working on installing the new HD as I type, and according to him, the USB and FW ports *do* work. Odd... I distinctly remember trying to use them several times to no result. Anyway, that is great because then I will have a work computer again, and not have to type emails on my iPhone. (Yes, I got an iPhone, yes, I paid far too much for it, yes, I love it).

Classes start on Monday... not much else to say about that until then. Don't think I'm actually going to be taking any classes, except for rotations, journal club, seminars, and TAing. I think I'll be busy enough, and my committee didn't really seem to think it'd be a problem. So we'll see how the quarter goes... back in school, weird!

* minus all the data that used to be on it

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

cyclocross!!!

fast one right now, since it's late and i have to get up early, but...

just got back from my first cyclocross race of the season, and it was AWESOME. I didn't place terribly well (3rd from the bottom of my category) but I was racing against women's B category racers, when I'm used to there being a category C or 3 or 4 or whatever. but 3rd to last is not last, and I had hella fun, met some cool people, and am starting to feel okay about oregon in general.

also started my first rotation, and my gut instinct is that i've found a lab i could see living in for the next 5-6 years, and a project that i could see turning into my ph.d. thesis.

awesome. oregon is not horrible.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

retreat!

so I am out at the mckenzie river conference center, AKA the us basketball academy, for the retreat portion of grad school orientation. It's beautiful, relaxing, and science-riffic. Plenty of talks to fill my brain, plenty of beer to fill my belly. Good times. Most of the faculty of the Neuro institute are here, so it's a great opportunity to hobnob with the big guys and figure out who to work with. (no; I have not decided on my first rotation, nor do I know who I want to work with for my thesis.) This evening, it's more talks, then beer and campfire time, hopefully with minimal sing-a-longs. Tomorrow I may stay for the evolution and ecology group retreat, though I may decide to go home and unpack some more... feeling a bit under the weather with a nasty cough that just cropped up during the move and a scratchy throat, yuck. No fun. By I'm choosing to ignore it and focus on the fun to be had... Yay science!

Monday, September 15, 2008

to do:

- get the bottom bracket and pedals swapped out on my fixie, and get it down here. the Surly is waaay too nice to be an everyday ride in this town! in fact, if you've spent more than $300 on your bike, you're probably in the upper 50% here.

- figure out a way to get frida down here.

- finish unpacking. holy crap i am a clothes pack rat. 90% of it i never wear but can't justify getting rid of, in case i need it someday. but now it needs a home here, and i can't do what i did in the previous 2 apartments, and just throw the boxes of sweaters in the closet and access them from there. closet is too small.

- figure out how to hang art on the walls here. 2 of the walls are outside basement walls, so pretty much concrete. too hard to put nails in; sticky hooks perhaps? the other 2 are rather soft and push pins will work fine, unless the object in question is too heavy. not sure at all about how to hang the diploma.

maps

it's afternoon, which means the sunlight is finally starting to filter down through the ferns to my little west-facing window, almost convincingly filling the room with a day-like glow. i know, though, that in this room, artificial light is almost never going to be dispensible; the trick is going to be making the lighting in this room as natural as possible.

went out exploring a little earlier today; dropped by the graduate program office and got myself oriented a bit. people in the department are all very friendly, if busy. walked around campus a bit with the graduate coordinator; saw the cafeteria where they filmed the egg-splosion scene from animal house; repressed the urge to recreate it then and there. not a good way to impress new business acquaintances...

went grocery shopping at the market of choice, market of choice. no really, that's what it's called. aptly named, too, for the beer selection there is more than adequate; well, not quite, since they didn't have any elysian beer except for the stout. i'm consoling myself with a ninkasi IPA, considerably more local and arguably as good as the immortal.

leaving the grocery store and trying to find my way back to the bike path, i must have committed a faux pas by crossing at a pedestrian crosswalk. a lady turned left in front of me while making little "tsk tsk" motions and trying to say something. she seemed amused, like i was committing a greivous yet humorous mistake; i was just trying to get across the fracking street to get home! geez. hopefully i will figure out the obscure customs of this land before being thrown out as a fraud.

anyway, there you have it: the mundane details of my day thus far. think i'll spend some more time working on making my room liveable, and perhaps go out for a ride later on.

First day, first post

New blog. Seems kind of weird to be starting over, but in many ways a fresh start is needed, and since I'm experiencing another kind of fresh start (the IRL kind) it seemed like a good way to go.

Anyway, since I just arrived in town last night and am still unpacking, I don't have much to say, but I think that things here will be alright. Give me a few days to get settled, figure out what is going on with school, etc, and I'll update you.