Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Siren Call: French Fries

Golden, crunchy, fried potatoes.  Oh my good heavens I adore french fries.  I could eat them all the time.  I can even rank them in terms of who has the best.  (Chick-Fil-A and McDonalds in case you're wondering)  Why am I making a monologue about golden fried goodness you ask?  Well because every time I resolve to eat better I decide that I should not eat as many french fries as I do.  I target other things as well but french fries are really the things that stab me right in the heart.  I do not ever cut them out completely.  Because I want to enjoy life (honestly don't ever lecture me about this, it's one of the few things that actually makes me angry  ; ).  But I do try to limit them to once a week, and then only small.  Well I haven't had any for two weeks.  I think it's because I haven't eaten with anyone else in that time, and when I'm alone I mostly eat tortillas and the leftover glorious enchiladas I made.  But my cravings have been getting intense.  I talked to my sis about Chick-fil-a I think on Tuesday and I've brought it up every day since then.  I guess it's good we don't have those here....  Haha I better get some soon or I think I'm going to crack!

I have many other "siren calls" but this is the only one I can think of right now  : ).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Motivation has been a big problem for me this summer.  Not only in work and relationships (as in friends, families, doing things for others), but also in blogging.  I've actually had many thoughts I'd like to commit to proverbial 'paper', but sadly either they would be alittletoo soul bearing for my taste, or I just haven't done it.  But I feel the time has come for me to state the biggest problem I'm having this summer.  Books.

I don't get to read much during the school year.  It's kind of a mental block I have, I get too completely engrossed in the books I do pick up that they either need to be ones that I can finish in a few hours, or the won't get done for months, just so I can focus on school.  But then summer hits.  And all the cravings I've had for books hit me all at the same time with a great degree of potency.  Let me illustrate the degree this has taken me over.  In the past 4 business days (haha not counting Sunday),  I've bought 12 new books.  That's right.  Twelve.  Even more interesting,  I've already read four of them.  Two I'd previously read before buying them, but they're not counted in the four I've read.  Well one of them is but I did actually read it.  And it's not even like I'm buying a series.  My tastes for these books are insanely diverse.  I have a memoir, a rousing tale of sisterhood through the decades, a coughfewcough teen books (these are the sort that just take me hours to read), a novel about the changing world around the times of civil rights, and three gritty murder mysteries.  I'm also currently reading, but purchased long ago, a WWII novel by I believe my favorite author.  I have an addiction.  And it's only getting worse.  I wonder if there's some way I could transform my motivation for procuring and reading these books into the research I should be doing....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Presentationing and Vacaytioning

I was on vacation (ish) this past week in sunny humid Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  My purpose in going was to present a paper I'd written at a technical conference.  But my advisor graciously allowed me a few extra days before and after the conference.  So as a result I was both insanely busy with the conference and being scared out of my mind for my presentation, and also loving the very essence of life because I could walk with no shoes along the beach for hours on end.
First I'll get work out of the way.  I mentioned earlier that I've given presentations before, but this one had me really nervous.  The reason for this comes all the way down to the field I'm in.  This field is really only 40-50 years old.  This kind of seems like a lot but when you look at it in terms of technical conferences, it means that the same people who started the field, the ones who invented the concepts I'm researching, are all still attending these meetings.  So I'm presenting my research with my one year of grad school to back me up, to people who invented the field.  I admit it.  I was intimidated.  There were two days of conference before my presentation and while I didn't go to much of the conference (I was glued to my computer and power point) I did get to know people better, and they became more people like rather than the pedestal-sitting entities I had made them out to be in my head.  So that made me less nervous.  And I also got more familiar with my presentation and realized that what I'd heard really was true; "No one knows more about my research than I do."  I also get much more comfortable after I start talking.  So while the beginning of my talk was a little rocky (my dad said I was "tense", I'm hoping he's the only one who noticed), it got much better towards the end.  I was actually really proud of myself because every time I practiced I was only about 16-17 minutes long (I was supposed to take 20 mins), but when I gave it, and I got more comfortable, and started pointing more things out, I was within 20 seconds of the time.  Small successes!!  So it went well.  The questions I got I could answer them all and I think they'll help me with my future research.
Now the fun part (and also the reason I haven't been able to bring myself to put on real shoes since I've gotten home)!  The first day we were there my prof took us kayaking up this river.  He does this every year because if you go at the right time, low tide, you get to see the dolphins that come up river to eat fish.  And also a plethora of birds.  Here are some of the highlights of that fun trip :).
This cute little buddy was not so sure about us...
One of the two dolphins we saw.  So dang cool.

And then my personal favorite and what made the ENTIRE trip for me:
I adore otters and this one was SO cute.  Right before this pic he was eating the oysters out of the oyster bed there.  I wanted to die he was so cute.

During the week we also spent massive amounts of time on the beach, and in the sun.  And one morning we even got up early enough to go sit on the beach and watch the sun rise.  It was fantastic even though it was 6 in the morning (basically that whole week I didn't get more than 6 hours of sleep a night and averaged about 4..).  Just beautiful though.
This was the beginnings... about half an hour after we got to the beach.  It was cloudy so 'official' sunrise wasn't when we actually saw the sun.
And then it fully up, and what made me want to live on the beach.  I realized I could walk on the beach for hours and not get bored.  I don't really ever go in the water (we were night swimming and something large definitely grazed up upper thigh......) but just walking in the sand right where the waves barely reach is pretty much heaven.

And the last fun thing we did was parasailing.  It's so peaceful I love it (have to say it was better in Mexico though because the water there was clear).
Such fun such fun.

Flown the Coop

I was out of town this past week (more on that to come).  But just as I anticipated the little ducks were born while I was out....  7 little duckies were born and are now out following their momma around somewhere.  I unfortunately haven't seen the little ones but I can just imagine that they're adorable.  All I have is the picture of what's left.

One little egg that didn't hatch and some broken shells.  I don't know what to think about the last egg.  I know that this happens sometimes but it still makes me sad.  I also can't help wondering if some sort of other animal will come and take it....  what else is going to happen to it?

Friday, June 4, 2010


My awesome sister did something for me when I came to grad school hell heaven.  When I first came I was really lonely and absolutely hated being in my office.  So she put together bunches of pictures of my fam, some "fail" things because they make me laugh, and quotes that are both inspirational or funny, or break my heart because my niece said them and I can hear her little voice in my head saying them.  She also sent bunches of tacks so I could hang them on my walls.  So now when I'm in my office I'm surrounded by love and family and laughing.  One of the things she sent me is something I had seen before, I guess you'd call it a poem, but it's called Desiderata.  I'm going to repeat it here just for my own benefit because I love it so much and it never fails to inspire me.  The man who wrote it said in his diary that, "I should like, if I could, to leave a humble gift -- a bit of chaste prose that had caught up some noble moods.".  I think he succeeded.
(I've added the emphasis my sister added for me : )

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
Bul let this not blind you to what virtuie there is;
many persons strive for high edeals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.  Especially do no feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubth the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
kepp peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.  Strive to be happy.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Frozen in the Face of Terror

This might sound weird but I don't get nervous speaking in front of people.  I've given a ton of presentations.  I've taught classes, I've given presentation to high school students trying to get them to like engineering, and I've talked so much about engineering to my professors I get bored thinking about it.  I've even presented engineering work to non-engineers.  All those times I get a little nervous right before but that's it.  Well not this time.  I'm talking at a conference next week and preparing the presentation right now.  I wasn't nervous until I made the presentation.  Now I'm absolutely petrified.  I have to practice the presentation tomorrow in front of my professor and truly that is what scaring me the most.  I don't know why but make a fool of myself in front of this person is more terrifying than presenting in front of professional engineers.  But then again I haven't gotten to that part yet :).  Right now I'm just paralyzed.  Ugh.  Fear.  It's a terrible emotion.