You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2011.

for today is the day of pain in the astronomy department at the University of the Frozen Tundra. Today is the one day every year the first and second year (and some third year) graduate students get to run the punishing gauntlet of the written qualifying exam.

When I started at the University of the Frozen Tundra the exam was the weekend after Martin Luther King Jr day. I may have pointed out at some point that if they moved it forward a week and kept with the standard week long grading scheme then people could sign up for thesis credits in the spring if the paperwork saying they passed the written exam was submitted by the Monday after MLK day. So somewhere in our department I expect there are some grad students cursing my name because they wanted an extra week to study.

In the end though I don’t think it matters. I was one of those third years taking the exam since I have huge test anxiety issues. And I have to say that year 3 went by much better on the exam, that time they actually bothered to proof read the questions before slapping them together on the exam so I didn’t find myself sitting there going What the hell are you asking like I did in year 2.

But even if students pass the exam they have to also worry about their “second year project” and their oral exam. I actually passed my oral before the written (in violation of uni regs, but whatever) and was happy I wasn’t like so many other grad students in our dept that got a pass with reservations (where reservations always seemed to involve a punishment of at least 25 page papers on the background of their topic of study). I think we’ve actually had one oral failure since I was a student and they’ve been allowed to redo their oral and are still in the program.

I’m glad to be done with all of that. Instead I’m thinking about my defense in April and how to squash what potentially may be 5 journal articles worth of material into an hour long talk with in depth background to convince astronomers that we really care about solar system studies. I may have just made a really awesome plot yesterday too for journal article #4 that made me giddy and may have caused a little squeeing. I’m not sure if that’s a sign I’m ready to finish or not, so many people seem burnt out and pissed towards the end. I’m just turning even bossier than normal with my advisor and squeeful.

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and it’s T minus a few months before I become insufferable and demand that everyone refer to me as Doctor. The last week has actually been spent cursing my bleepity bleep Macbook. I have an old black one that still is covered under AppleCare which means the next repair will be free. That’s great except that the repair is something related to the wrist rest flexing and causing the trackpad to go wacky with the highlighting and random loss of huge chunks of text. Unlike most of the complaints I find out there it’s an issue with the right side (ie above the hard drive) rather than on the left side which is apparently caused by a bulging battery pack. So 60 miles down the freeway I shall go later this week to get this looked at while I pet the iPads and curse waiting until Feb.

I also sucked it up this week and added my name to the rumor mill thanks to the phone interview I had gotten and ignored my advisor who said it’s not nice to add names from shortlists on the rumor mill. I need the name recognition and I can see that lots of people have been googling my name + astronomy in the past few days to figure out who the competition is. Of course my adding my name to the rumor mill was also a power play- I noticed an increasing number of hits to my webpage from a major astronomy player institution where no one does my subfield. I’m hoping that meant I’m close to making a shortlist there too. Yay for hidden javascripts that track all the people lurking about my webpage.

Oh and with the new year I have officially decided to start the office cleansing- so I shall be using my scanner/printer/copier and scanning in all my undergrad notes as pdfs and compressing the snot out of them so I can fit them in my gmail code/scanned papers etc account as well as on external hard drive (though I’m going to tempt fate and only back up in duplicate, not triplicate). Hopefully by the time I become a Doctor I will have rid myself of about 15 cubic feet of dead trees.