Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 year in review

well, 2008 is almost over. thank goodness. what a year. even though, being a poor grad student and all, I did not lose a house or a large sum of money in the stock market or my job (being the equivalent of slave labor there is no way they will get rid of grad students) and Obama won the election, it was still an exhausting year.

the first half of the year was reviewed in a previous post.

July: the summer was spent mostly doing work, but I had a couple nice breaks. at the end of June I went to Disneyland with my brother and some friends (pictures). over 4th of July weekend I went to San Francisco to see my step-family. the weather was heavenly and we had a lot of fun.

August: August was a whirlwind. I went camping and almost got eaten by a wild donkey (pictures), went to a research group meeting at Berkeley, went sightseeing and to a wedding in Seattle (pictures), and over Labor Day weekend went to Carpinteria beach as always to hang out with my family.

Fall semester: it all blends together here. basically I was at school upwards of 40 hours a week, plus working at home more than that. I was taking three classes, plus doing 20 hours of research, plus co-teaching a class (elementary science methods for pre-service teachers). good things: I bought an iPhone (it's still awesome), my classes went really well and were interesting, I missed teaching and it was great to have students again, I ran two 5K races and walked one (with Laika), and finally went to the Arizona state fair (pictures).

December: the end of the semester was crazy. I got sick right before finals (of course). also, I had to take the GRE again because I'm applying to Vanderbilt to transfer for next fall. my advisor got a position there so I am considering transferring there. it would mean that grad school will take a little bit longer (like an extra year probably), but it is a really good school and a great opportunity for me. so, start planning your trips to Nashville to come visit me. I promise we won't listen to any country music. :)

New Years resolutions: I have been doing pretty well this year with the watching TV less and reading books more. I also bought another camera over the summer and I have been playing with that. I have also been cooking a lot more and trying new things. all these things will continue. along with cooking more I will be cooking less meat. I stopped eating beef last year for my new years resolution and that went so well (yes, the In-n-out grilled cheese is just as good as the cheeseburger) I will try to eat as little meat as possible. although it will be hard to say no to some tasty bacon.

and, you can follow me on twitter. this blog will be updated only occasionally and twitter will carry some of the things that used to be posted here.

Hope you all have a wonderful 2009!

Monday, November 03, 2008

it's almost Tuesday

I have other things to do. like, work on a lesson plan for the class I'm teaching. also, sleeping. sleeping would be nice. but what I am doing instead? checking http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/ obsessively every so often, looking through my RSS news feeds, and updating my facebook status. why isn't it Tuesday yet? I can't take this anymore! I spent about three hours making phone calls on Saturday, reminding people to vote and helping them locate their polling place. that helped a bit. I felt useful. I'm going to try to go again tomorrow when I get back from school. I definitely feel encouraged by the people I talk to (and of course, the above mentioned aggregated polling site), but even the staunch optimist in me is not allowing me to be happy or even less stressed. if anything, I have been more concerned and worried in the last week than I was at any other point. I probably didn't help the situation by re-reading some of the reports about voter fraud in Ohio in 2004 and recalling my own brush with voter disenfranchisement in 2004 (which I am still mad about - and that old blog post doesn't mention that I later found out that this had happened to many many people, not just me). I'm trying to relax and thing happy thoughts about Tuesday night and a big celebration! GOOO OBAMA!

in other news, things are moving forward with me possibly moving to Nashville next year. also, The Big Bang Theory is still awesome. and What is the What was an amazing book. everyone should read it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

from the dog park

I'm blogging from the dog park! How cool is that? I bought an iPhone two weeks ago and it is amazing. Every time the phone rings I get excited.
School is going alright. I am super busy trying to finish writing this papaer that we need to submit for publication in a couple weeks. it is really interesting and it's going well, but we just got some more data yesterday that I now need to analyze and fold into the existing paper. Oh well.

In other news, I am now on twitter. Check out my tweets at http://www.twitter.com/dapostrophe

Sunday, September 07, 2008

second week of school = over

tomorrow begins week three of the semester from hell. luckily it doesn't seem that bad so far. I have a manageable amount of work right now and I awesomely scheduled everything so I have Fridays to sit at home and do work (reading, writing, internet surfing, catching up on TV, etc.). so maybe it won't be hell per say, but just some form of punishment (for what, I don't know).

speaking of hell, last weekend as I was driving to California for a Labor Day Weekend of sitting on the beach with my family I had a blowout on the freeway. the good news was that I was able to get over to the side of the road quickly and safely and I wasn't far from my house (only about ten miles) and therefore close to the Toyota place and not in the middle of nowhere, Arizona. the bad news was that I couldn't get the stupid tire off by myself and had to call a tow truck which took forever to get there and then I had to wait three hours at the Toyota place while they put on new tires (oh, and a drive belt that I also needed). needless to say, it was a very expensive and frustrating five hour detour to the beach. after that, I got to California just fine (and thanks to my new tires, with excellent gas mileage) and had a lovely weekend laying on the beach and hanging out with my brother and cousins. the hardest part of the weekend was resisting the urge to try and talk some sense into my mostly Republican family. oh well.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

new semester

so the first week of the new semester is almost over and I have already had way more coffee than I was expecting. oh well. I have now officially been in Arizona for four years and it's starting to sink in just how long that is. although parts of it have gone quickly, others have dragged on and on. hopefully I will have only two (maybe three) more years, so my goal of finishing before I turn 30 might actually happen (keep your fingers crossed).
this semester I am taking four classes. that's right, four. I know it's a horrible idea, but it just has to be this way. one of them is actually not a class so much as teaching experience, but it still gets factored into my already packed schedule. I am also still doing 20 hours of research each week and our new project is super exciting. we are developing a fun video game to teach students introductory physics concepts (mostly force and motion ideas). hopefully we can get some programmers soon so I can start collecting data by next semester (again, keep your fingers crossed).

in non-school news, I went to Seattle last weekend. nominally, the trip was for Steve and Keely's wedding, but I also got a lot of sightseeing in (it was my first time to Seattle) and also visited Dustin (grad student up there) and Gregg (happened to be there for a conference). Amy, Meschelle and I did a little bit of hiking at Snoqualmie Falls (this awesome waterfall just outside the city). the wedding was absolutely beautiful and fun. and lucked out with the weather since it rained like crazy the following day (the wedding was outside). so yeah, great time in Seattle, definitely want to visit again. here are some pictures from the weekend:

this weekend, I am going to Carpinteria (near Santa Barbara) for the annual family beach weekend. cannot wait. I miss the beach so much (and my family too). not having a beach nearby is the worst part about living here in Arizona.

in other news, our pub quiz team The Evil League of Evil has triumphed again. hooray!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

attack of the deranged mutant killer monster donkey

last night, Katie, Rosa, Mike P, Laika, and I went for a short camping trip to Lake Pleasant Regional Park to watch the Perseid meteor shower. little did we know that it would turn into the adventure that it was.
it began simply enough, driving an hour or so out of Phoenix to the park and finding a perfect and scenic campsite on the lake (it was great because almost no one else was there). it was still hot, but not too bad as we quickly put up our tents before sunset. we cooked up some soup for dinner and Laika chased some lizards and spiders and a mouse we found in the fire pit. everything was going smoothly until around 11:30pm when we wanted to take a little nap (the meteor shower was supposed to peak around 4am). we were all in our tents and trying to stay cool when we were heard some weird noises and Laika started barking her head off. we turned on our flashlights to try and see what it was, but we couldn't tell. at first it sounded like a donkey, but that was such a weird idea that we then thought maybe it was a goose. but then we heard galloping. and it was really close. it was definitely a donkey. a wild, crazy, possibly mutant donkey that lived in the lake and came out at night to feast on human flesh. or something. we kind of freaked out a little bit and ran to the car for protection. then after a few minutes we couldn't hear anything anymore so we went back. but 10-15 minutes later it happened again. Katie had had some previous experiences with wild donkeys on an island in Georgia so we knew it was best to be cautious. we built a big fire to scare it away and keep shining our flashlights over in the area where we heard it. later we heard another one on the other side of the lake and eventually were able to see the one (well, actually two) that were over by our campsite. we were so happy that Laika was there because we knew she was listening and would alert us if it came near again (which, of course, it did) so we could get a little bit of sleep.
the whole thing was simultaneously hilarious and a little bit scary and made for a camping trip not soon to be forgotten. the meteor shower itself was pretty good; there were some really bright and long ones with great vapor trails, but there also weren't as many as we were expecting and half of the sky was cloudy.
when we got home this morning, our brave guard dog Laika passed out on the floor and slept all day. :)
here are some pictures of the beautiful lake (click to see the album on Picasa):
Lake Pleasant

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

from one extreme to the other

okay, so it's really hot in Phoenix right now. like 110 degrees hot. so when I found out I would be going to UC Berkeley for a research meeting for a week in August, I was super excited. little did I know that when I got here, it would be really cold. like, freezing almost. and it's not just me who is perhaps maladjusted. the people who live here are also cold. so it's unusual and it's cold and I'm wearing a sweater and drinking hot tea and I'm still cold.
only good thing: we were able to do a little hiking today in the late afternoon and it was beautiful out. couldn't do that in Phoenix right now.
oh, I guess other good thing: I am learning a lot and networking with cool people and getting good feedback about my research. and I had some good Thai food. two days in a row.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

July went fast

for reals. how is already August? that is insane.

this is what happened in July: went to San Fran for 4th of July (hung out with the step-family), did a lot of work at school, tried to stay cool in the air conditioning of my apartment and office, played with Laika (best dog ever), drank a lot of coffee (yay cold-brewed iced coffee), read a couple books and a lot of magazines, watched a crap load of movies (thanks Netflix!), started the whole online dating thing (jury is still out), hung out with my aunt and twin cousins, cooking yummy food, and I got addicted to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (super awesome). all in all, not a bad month. just a fast one.

August is going to be a blur, I can already tell. here's the plan so far: work meeting at Berkeley all next week (hello 75 degrees), two house-warming parties, possible camping trip, trip to Seattle for a wedding (soo excited!), fall semester begins, and Labor Day weekend trip to Santa Barbara (as always - family reunion).

Monday, June 30, 2008

Orange-Angeles adventures

last weekend was a blast. (ok, technically since it's Monday now, it was the weekend before last. but whatever.) it was a lot of driving, but it was totally worth it. it started on Friday with the Phoenix to LA-ish drive (or Orange-Angeles as Tom used to refer to the Orange County/Los Angeles County area). only this time I wasn't by myself. Jonah, Sarah, and Beth came along because we were all going to Disneyland! so I dropped them off in Anaheim and then went up to LA to see the family. bright and early the next morning, I picked up Anthony (the best brother in the world) and drove us both down to Disneyland. you see, Anthony now has this kick-ass job at ABC and can get me (and a couple other people) into D-land and California Adventure for free. so that's awesome. super awesome.
Saturday was also Beth's birthday so she was super excited and Jonah had something special planned for Sarah as well. the five of us got to the park just after the 8am opening and proceeded straight to the new-ish Finding Nemo ride that none of us had been on yet. however, we noticed there was no line for Star Tours and so we stopped there first. although that line is usually short (nowadays anyway), I have never actually walked onto the ride like I did that morning. after a short battle against Imperial star destroyers, we walked over to Space Mountain to get a fast pass. however, that line was also ridiculously short (about 10 minutes) so we decided to just go on it as well. crazy good luck! up next was Finding Nemo, which was about a 45 minute wait. but still, we couldn't believe our luck with the short lines. later in the day we realized it was at least partially due to the fact that it was ridiculously hot and humid all weekend. but it was worth it. the lines were shorter than I have ever seen them on a weekend during the summer. so that was nice. other highlights from the weekend at Disneyland: waiting in line at Pirates of the Caribbean (congratulations Jonah and Sarah!), Beth taking pictures of Pooh (a la Amelie and the gnome) constantly, dinner at the Blue Bayou, the kids doing the Jedi training academy, the backside of water (as always), Anthony getting sunburned, the super fun new Toy Story ride, and pineapple floats at the Enchanted Tiki Room. here are some pictures:
Disneyland June 08

after the eventful weekend at Disneyland, I spent a few more days in LA visiting family and friends from college and driving all over the place. I don't think I could have packed in any more fun.

in other news, I am officially mad at DirecTV because they are stupid. I tried to go watch the UEFA Euro 2008 Final yesterday at a pub with some people from my soccer team, but for some reason DirecTV screwed up and nobody could get it. anywhere. argh! (and yes, I was recording it at home, but I wasn't at home and now I don't want to watch it because I already know what happened.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

hello summer

so I know it's been a while since I've updated this blog, but I've been busy. busy doing what, you might ask. well, here's a recap of the last few months with links to appropriate photo albums:

February: in February I celebrated my birthday with more Star Wars legos (super awesome) and lots of beer at Four Peaks, got a new hard drive for my computer (not by choice, see previous post), went skiing up in Flagstaff, and tried to not get buried in school work.
Birthday 2008

March: first there was the spring break trip to San Francisco to see Tom (and also Tara and Navneet). we hung out at Golden Gate Park, had some really good brunch, visited the pirate store, and ate some delicious cupcakes. later in the month was the two conference trip to New York City and then Baltimore. lots of work, not much sleep, but totally worth it. while in New York, I saw two Broadway shows (Spring Awakening and A Chorus Line), drank some flavored vodka with Fred S-H, walked around Central Park in the cold, and spent an entire day at the Met. in Baltimore, I went to the Science Museum, ate a giant crab cake, hung out with Brian F, and did lots more work-related stuff. in all, the conferences were great; our presentations were well received, I went to lots of interesting talks, met some cool people, met some important people, and generally had a good time.
San Francisco

nyc and baltimore

April: more school work. recovered from all the traveling. and I got a dog! she's awesome. I named her Laika, after the Russian space dog that was the first earthling to orbit the Earth. she's a two (?) year-old Australian cattle dog mix that I got from the Arizona Animal Welfare League (the biggest and oldest no-kill shelter in the state). she was already house trained and knows some commands (but chooses not to follow them occasionally). she likes chasing birds, eating ice cubes, being friendly and adorable, and barking at invisible people outside our apartment.

May: lots more work. finished up the semester (glad that's over with). I have approximately four more classes left to take before I can take my comps (next spring). the dissertation research might start in the fall, depending on some funding issues and a few other things. so far, so good.

June: well, now it's June and summer is officially here. it was 107 today. which is officially hot. last weekend, some of us went cliff jumping at a swimming hole near Gisela (up near Payson). it was super fun. there was a collision of physics and soccer people there, which was an interesting mixture of personalities. everyone had a good time (although not everyone jumped off the 25 foot cliff. wusses).
Cliff jumping

rest of the summer: I'm doing research all summer. but I have lots of other things planned. I'm going to LA in a week or so. my brother has a kick ass job at ABC, so he can get me into Disneyland for free (woo hoo!). I'm also going to San Francisco for the 4th of July to hang out with my step-sisters and that side of the family. later in July I may or may not be going to a conference in Edmonton. in August I may or may not be going to Berkeley for a research meeting (NSF site meeting, to be more exact) and hopefully going to Seattle for Steve and Keely's wedding.
in the meantime, I will be reading lots of books and watching lots of movies and hanging out with all my awesome friends (except Angel, who will be in China for the summer and is going to the U.S. v Netherlands men's soccer game at the Olympics and is therefore no longer my friend, unless he brings me back something cool).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

some words of advice

back up your computer. do it today. don't wait until next week. just do it.
so my hard drive crashed on Sunday. I think I jinxed it because I had a discussion with Wendy the night before about how silly it is that some people don't back up their computers. so silly. well, when I came home from soccer on Sunday, my screensaver was frozen and I couldn't wake up the computer. when I tried to restart, I got the dreaded flashing file folder with the question mark. could not find operating system. so sad. I reset the PRAM and everything, but to no avail.
last night I took my macbook into the Apple store and they confirmed that it was indeed dead and were able to replace it right then and there (thank goodness for that! yay for applecare). the first thing the guy asked me was, 'did I back up?'. I replied, 'yes, a couple weeks ago. I didn't lose anything super important.' 'ok, good, you aren't going to cry on me. almost no one backs up.' basically I've lost a couple unimportant documents and a handful of pictures from hiking a couple weeks ago. no big deal. the major problem is that now I have to reinstall everything. it's like starting over with a new computer. so that's really annoying and is going to take a while to get back to "normal".
so yeah, people. back your stuff up! all hard drives are going to fail eventually. it is a certainty. I'm serious. external hard drives are cheap nowadays. buy one.

good news: didn't lose the pictures from my birthday because I hadn't downloaded them to my computer yet. hopefully I will post them later this week.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

a new semester

so the first week of the new semester has ended. although it really seems like it's been two weeks since I was back at work the week before (and getting up at 5:30am no less for it. ugh). I am taking three classes again this semester: discourse analysis (which should be time consuming but really interesting and useful), collaboration and argumentation in science ed (which should be interesting and hopefully lead to a dissertation topic), and multiple regression (yay more stats!). I only have classes two days a week which is kind of nice, and that opens up the rest of the week for getting lots of work done and going to various schools in the area to collect data for our project.
this week I also finally submitted a paper to be included in a encyclopedia-type book for classroom teachers. and I'm first author! so exciting!

the reason I was getting up so early last week was because we were running our project at a school 40 minutes away from me and I had to get there at like 7am. we were working in a 9th grade physical science class and almost all of the students were minority students and on free or reduced lunch. the five days I was there were a real eye-opening experience to the day-to-day issues that teachers face at these kinds of schools. it is really important to get the kids to respect you, otherwise it's impossible to have any discipline in the class and get any work done. we had to battle with it the whole time we were there (for example, one of the periods had some kids in it that had been in jail already and just didn't see the point in listening to us). plus, most of the kids weren't too excited about learning about thermodynamics so that didn't help. the good news is that by the end, many of them found the program interesting and liked being able to use the computers to have discussions with the other students. and some of them actually learned something. woo hoo! but it also made me think a lot about how to motivate these kids. I mean, seriously, I don't blame them for not wanting to pay attention in class or learn about thermal conductivity. it is so removed from what they think is important in their lives at this point and many of the problems they perceive in society probably stem from institutions such as schools that don't necessarily treat them well.

in other news, Legos are awesome.