Thursday, August 19, 2010

Finding motivation in observing science

I didn't present at the workshop in Knoxville. I wish I had something from my PhD work to present because I was a minority in focusing on the physical and dynamical aspects of climate science rather than the chemical and biological. I think I would have added breadth to the two days of talks.

Since a lot of them focused on chemistry and my last chemistry class was introductory chemistry for science majors six years ago, I did not understand many details of the studies. Nonetheless, I found the workshop valuable beyond the basic conclusions I gleaned from each talk. Hearing about other's work inspired me to return to my own research. Perhaps Musings of a Life-Long Scholar hit on a good motivational tip: read 1000 words of scientific literature at the start of each work day. I might remember more of the literature that way, too.

Ironically, it is difficult to work while at a workshop. I attended talks all day and networked/socialized in the evenings. It was a perfect time to run programs that require hours of computer time and little babysitting. Running those programs gets me much closer to finishing the figures I need for the MS paper. I hope to have a full draft by Labor Day weekend, if not earlier.

I realize I've set goals like this before and missed them. Too often. I need to meet one of them to restore confidence in myself as a self-driven student. I used to know that without question. I'm not always sure anymore. I keep telling myself that I need time to adjust to the personal upheavals of the past year. At what point do reasons become excuses?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Whirlwind to whirlwind

My brother's wedding was not perfect but it was close. We only had a few minor problems that were easily remedied. Music and toasts were good and dinner was excellent. My mom and I hosted the gift opening yesterday morning (with a lot of prep help from family). Everyone liked the food there, too. My family likes food.

I enjoyed the whirlwind wedding weekend. I'm also glad it's over. My abstract for the 2011 AMS Annual Meeting is due today and I'm still short on sleep. Today I'm free to rest, bike, and work. Tomorrow and Wednesday I'll take my dad for treatment. Wednesday evening I will return to Grad School Town for a few meetings and to prepare for my Great East Coast Tour.

I haven't told you much about that yet, have I? It involves six cities over fifteen days: Knoxville, TN; Charlotte, NC; Hampton, VA; Alexandria, VA; Adelphi, MD; and New York City.

Family and friends keep asking why I decided to take this trip. It started when I realized that Knoxville, where I'm attending a professional workshop, is halfway to the East Coast. I may as well drive the other half to visit my friend in Adelphi. And since I'm in Adelphi, I should visit my friends a few hours away in Hampton. Then my brother's mother-in-law invited me to visit her in Charlotte. I couldn't pass that up. After all that, I thought about the one friend on the coast that wasn't part of my travel plans. Why wasn't he included? No reason, so I decided to drive to NYC to visit him, too. I convinced my Adelphi friend to meet me in Hampton and accompany me to NYC. Yay, more friend time!

I'll miss the first week of classes, but that's not a big deal. I'm taking my adviser's class. He'll be gone for most of the first week, and when he returns he'll cover some computing basics that I already know.

Of course my road bike will come with me. I plan to ride the Apple Cider Century in southwest Michigan on September 26, so I need to incorporate training rides into my travel. Between the Tour and the Century, my jujitsu dojo is attending a big workshop in Ohio the second weekend of September. Stories will surely ensue. I'm excited on all counts!

I hope I'm still alive at the end of it. I need to do some serious work this fall. I will also try to work on my handy dandy laptop during my travels. Will I ever leave work at home when I take a vacation? I cannot escape this love-hate relationship with technology.