Archive for the ‘Student Life’ Category
By the end of 2013 I will no longer be a grad student. Whether I cash in my chips and get a Masters, see it all the way through to the PhD, or just walk away is yet to be determined. By the end of 2013 I will rejoin the work force.
I entered graduate school with the ultimate goal of technical leadership. My prior employer, a government contractor, put a great deal of important on the PhD credential. All positions of impact required a PhD, and I wanted impact.
In pursuit of my PhD, however, I discovered #BigData and found my calling. I found great joy in teasing out patterns no one else had seen before. My ability to find simple approaches made me extremely effective, as complexity often does not scale with big data. I had impact in terms of features shipped and patent applications doing something that I loved during my internships.
The career I want has changed, and a PhD is no longer required.
I’m close to graduating. Close enough that I started sending out my resume with my adviser’s blessing. I’ve updated my online resume and linkedin profile. I am still working on my thesis, but it’s secondary to my job search. This is happening. I’m excited for this new chapter, whether or not it’s with the word ‘dr’ in my title. I’m ready (so, so ready) to rejoin the workforce.
What do you do when you’re a first time mom and your baby starts acting sick? Make Nipple Soup!
It’s been a tough week for all of us.
Even though I’ve declared myself on maternity leave, I am a grad student, and the world of research doesn’t stop for anyone. I’m taking the summer ‘off’ which means I’m not working on a specific project (or getting paid). When it comes down to it, however, I’m only hurting myself by not working. I submitted a paper about a month before Nicki’s due date and a few weeks ago I found out it was accepted as a short paper. That meant I needed to pare it down from ten pages to five, and it needed to be done by 2pm Sunday or it wouldn’t be published. Needless to say, I didn’t really sleep on Saturday. This week I have another, albeit much less important, deadline.
Then there was the heat wave. The temperature climbed outside to well over 100 for a few days, and inside the A/C just couldn’t keep up. Everyone was miserable. Napping during the day was difficult. We had every fan in the house going. Poor Nicki baby kept wanting to cuddle with Mommy for comfort, but Mommy’s body temperature wasn’t helping matters.
At least the heat wave is starting to abate now, Nicki doesn’t seem to be feeling better. This morning she started spitting up more than usual. She’s a bit of a grumpy gus and only wants to eat and nap. I’d be more worried if she wasn’t having the requisite number of dirty diapers (so I know she’s not dehydrated) or had a fever. Still, to be on the safe side, I decided to re-sterilize her bottle nipples and pacifiers.
Here’s hoping a good night of sleep turns things around.
Domingo: It’s our last three day weekend before the baby comes, do you want to do something fun?
Sarah (excited): Let’s organize the filing cabinet!
Okay, so my definition of “fun” may not be the conventional one.
I finished my paper at about 2:45 am (due at 3:00 am!) Saturday morning. Actually, it wasn’t done, done. I wasn’t able to do as much during the past couple of weeks as I would have liked, so I had more ideas I never got a chance to try. It’s just something I have to accept, I guess. My energy level just isn’t the same as other graduate students.
Even though it was a late night, I still got up early Saturday morning (thanks Zippy!). I was so tired I took a three hour nap in the middle of the day. Sunday wasn’t much better. I was able to sleep a bit more Saturday night, but didn’t feel like going out until the end of the day Sunday. Then I was only able to shop for a couple of hours before heading home for an early bedtime.
Still, despite feeling a bit like zombie, we did manage to accomplish a fair amount. On Sunday night we went clothes shopping. We only had a couple onesies for Zippy, and needed more. Babies R Us was having a 50% off select brands, so it’s perfect timing. Every book I read said not to overload on newborn clothes, usually sized for 5-8 lbs, or 0-3 months, usually 8-11 lbs. Some babies are born at 10+ lbs, and skip those sizes. In fact, the two most recent babies in my circle of friends were both over 9 lbs!
While we’re not expecting a big baby, anything is possible. I bought a couple packages of newborn size onesies, so we now have 18 in total. Even with 2 or 3 changes a day, that should last us a week before running out of clean clothes. (I’m sure it’s optimistic/naïve to think we could go a full week without running a load of laundry since babies aren’t notoriously known for being clean!) The packs came with a lot of butterflies, hearts and flowers patterns, which aren’t really my style. But they are decent and I don’t want to spend too much time or money fixating on a size she may never wear. There were a couple of really adorable onesies that were my style, so I got those in 0-3 months and 3-6 months sizes. I’d hate for zippy to only be able to wear them once or twice before outgrowing them. I also figure keeping a couple on hand for growth spurts will be useful.
I have cut the tags off and will wash nine of the newborn onesies. I plan on keeping the receipt for the other nine (a five pack and a four pack), just in case. If Zippy is close to the size cutoff, I’ll try and make do with the first nine and return the last. If Zippy is too big for them right away, the washed onesies will go straight to charity. If she’s on the small side and I need more, I can always head back to the store!
While we were out, we also got burp clothes. Or rather cloth diaper tri-fold inserts to use as burp clothes. They’re kind of boring (plain white) but everyone online and my mom swears by them. After I opened the package I could see why, they’re large and super thick. I don’t have to worry about excess spittle seeping through! I’d go for functionality over appearance any day. The question in my mind now is “how many to get?”.
We also needed wipes and diapers. This one was harder for me, only because I like to buy in bulk to save. But we don’t know how big she’ll be, what will fit her, or what her skin sensitivity will be. I went with a three pack of wipes (to last two to three weeks) and a small pack of newborn diapers from three different brands. That way we can try the different brands, and go with the one that fits her best. I’m hoping to go the first two weeks without needing to go to the store for anything – clothes, wipes, diapers, etc. When we know what works for us, we’ll stock up!
Monday morning we made a couple of freezer meals (meat sauce for spaghetti, and chili). We’ve been freezing the spaghetti sauce in single servings throughout the pregnancy, since it’s been one of the things I’ve been able to consistently eat well, and with zippy sometimes compressing my stomach, it’s hard to predict when I’m hungry enough for a meal. I love the flexibility that single servings brings. It’s just as easy to thaw two as it is to thaw one! Our plan is to spend an hour or two each weekend before Zippy comes making more freezer meals. We’ll also stock up on frozen fish, chicken and vegetables.
Oh, and we also organized the filing cabinet! Good times.
I mentioned a few days ago about being stressed at school. I talked with my adviser about the setback I encountered, and we came up with a game plan to get around it. All was good. Ha! How naïve of me to think so. Since then, I had a massive hard drive issues that threatened to derail me further. Actually, I had two hard drive issues.
The first was with my external hard drive that has all all my research data on for the project I’ve been working. I know, I know, I should have a backup – but that’s hard when you’re talking about Terabytes of data. After I restarted the computer the disk would not mount. I could not access any of the data. Campus technical support couldn’t figure it out. There suggestion was to reformat the drive, but that would delete all my data. I got so stressed out about it, I ended up with a horrible migraine Saturday night. That’s when my wonderful husband saved the day.
Domingo realized the computer couldn’t read the drive because of an incompatibility with the BIOS. The BIOS controls what the computer does when it’s turned on. It meant two things. Reformatting would only work until the computer was turned off. Once the computer was booted again, the incompatibility with the BIOS would surface again and the drive would no longer be accessible. And secondly, there was a possibility there was no problem with the hard drive, and that my data was still in tact. Sunday, we took the two hour trip to campus, and he confirmed the problem. We brought the drive back home, and since then have been transferring the data to an external drive that my computer at school will be compatible with. Had Domingo not figured out the problem I not only would have lost my data, but I would keep loosing the drive every time I restarted my computer!
Then, yesterday, I had a personal hard drive crash. I booted my desktop to get a disk head crash error message. Disk head crashes are often unrecoverable. Sometimes the drive will still work, but it’s usually prone to more crashes. In this case, I was able to start the computer just long enough to copy all the data off before it crashed for good.
I am so glad to have survived the week without any data loss.
It’s no secret that I turn into Suzy Homemaker when I’m stressed. I bake, I cook, I clean. Of course, I do these things when I’m not stressed – but when I kick it into over drive. Today, at 4:32 pm, I dust busted the inside of the laundry hamper. Yup, my day was that good.
School has me stressed out these days. I’m trying to get my user study up and off the ground. The problem is I’m working with different organizations. Neither organization has anything to gain from helping me (other than my undying gratitude.) Apparently my undying gratitude doesn’t go for much these days. I’ve been fighting road blocks for over a month. At about 2 in the afternoon, I got an email from my collaborator about an issue that only he could resolve. Due to other commitments, he won’t be getting around to it for an indefinite amount of time. I’m screwed.
Time to re-evaluate, and maybe come up with a different approach. At least my home will be spotless in the meantime.
I picked up Domingo from the airport at 9am this morning (we will be returning for a 10 am flight tomorrow!) And we spent the day packing. I am unsure how I acquired so much stuff in just 12 weeks. I flew up with two suitcases (one checked, one carry-on) and my laptop. Domingo and I will have two carry-ons each, not including the checked bag! Where did the extra stuff come from?!
We took a leisurely approach to packing, visiting the Cross Roads food court for lunch, and a quick trip to good will. (Yes, I used up the last of the food in the apartment, except for one bag of peas and one tiny chicken breast). We finished packing around 8ish, and went out for dinner to celebrate the end of the internship and being reunited.
I could have planned for a 10pm flight out, rather than waiting for the morning, but I think we would have felt a little too rushed. In about 14 more hours I will get to cuddle with my kitty! It will be good to sleep in my own bed tomorrow. Memory foam, how I missed you!
I haven’t been posting a lot lately. We’re in the final stretch of my internship, which means cramming as much work into a few days as possible, before I had back to California. They say the most important moments in a speech are the first line, to hook the audience, and the last line, to give a good lasting impression. The same could be said for most any activity where you have a limited amount of time to make an impression – start strong, end strong.
This was a very good summer. I accomplished a lot, and having the opportunity to work at Bing shows me what life would be like as an applied researcher. As someone who thrives on having impact, it was great to see ideas having a shorter time to impact than they would if I remained purely academic. If I wasn’t itching to graduate before, I sure am now!
It was also easier this time around to be apart from Domingo for so long. (Easier not easy). I knew more what to expect. I was able to plan better. I made sure I had activities to keep me busy during the weekends Domingo didn’t visit. I also did better on stocking the fridge. I have enough frozen meats and vegetables to last for the final week, but not much beyond that. Last time it felt like I simultaneously didn’t have much, and wasted a lot. I had unopened package food I was trying to cram into my suitcase and take home in order to not waste it.
I am going to be sad to be gone, but happy to be home. Seven days left, Seven days to make a lasting impression. Wish me luck!
Domingo came up to visit me this weekend!
While he brought work, and I needed to make it in to the office as well, we did carve out some time yesterday to sight see in down town Seattle. I made reservations at the space needle for lunch. Yum! We had wanted to go during my internship in 2009, but I never got around to making reservations in time. Actually, when I made reservations yesterday was the only time they had free all month!
We picked a good day and the sun peeked through the the clouds which made for some awesome photography. It was a great way to remember my summer in seattle! I have two more weeks to go before the internship ends and I move back to California. I have to hand it to my fellow interns, some of which are not only married, but have kids! Domingo is only a two hour plane flight away and visits me frequently on the weekends. Just going the five days between weekends is tough. I don’t know how I could handle months away from my family.
This is the harrowing tale that so ends the saga of the heater. At least I hope so. Heat has once again been restored, and all is happy. I got home from work this afternoon to find a nice note that the heater has been replaced. Turned on the heater and basked in the warmth. For about three minutes. Is that a smokey smell? Then next thing I know, the fire alarm went off. I quickly turned off the heater, threw open a window and fanned the air away from the smoke alarm. Lather, rinse, repeat. When the smoke alarm went off again for the second time, I called the building maintenance. This time, the maintenance man was close by and had an idea what the problem was. The smoke detector had an old battery, and apparently one of the signs of an ageing battery is an extremely sensitive alarm. Sensitive enough to be triggered by a new heater turning on for the very first time. A new battery, heater on, and all was good.
I took advantage of the fact that I had the maintenance man in my apartment (he always comes during the day when I am out) to bring up all the issues I have been having. Turns out they had had some layover in terms of management as well as maintenance personal, and in particular the last guy took a “what ever makes the problem go away” kind of approach which led to a lot of band aid solutions that didn’t really fix the problems. My previous heater that was reinstalled just 5 weeks ago was installed facing the wall, ie backwards. Rather than blow air into the apartment, it was trying to blow air into the wall.
I’ll digress from the story for just a moment to talk about one of my housemates from freshman year at college. She had called me into her dorm, panicked because her printer wouldn’t work and her essay was due. After poking around for a few minutes, I found she had plugged the printer in upside down. Printer cables in those days had male and female connectors.
Male connectors have little spokes, where female connectors have little holes that the plugs fit nicely into. These devices are usually just slightly not symmetrical by design. That way the wide part of the male plug fits the wide part of the female plug to prevent these kinds of silly mistakes. It turns out with enough force you can jam the things together.
That’s effectively what the previous maintenance man had done, chipping away the drywall to make a big enough opening for a device in that was never supposed to fit that way. The fan that circulates the air and keeps the unit from over heating kept hitting the drywall, and eventually wore out. As a result the unit burned out and here we are.
All’s well that ends well. The heater is fixed and I find myself enjoying a toasty apartment once again. Just in time to make the jump to summer!
I called in my second emergency repair request in as many months for my apartment. The heater stopped working Monday when I cam home from work. Since it’s now almost mid may, I’ve been hoping the weather will warm up and I could just ignore the problem, but after a cold night, and the resulting sleeplessness, I decided I needed to take action. After leaving a non urgent request this morning and getting no response, I called the 24 hour number. We decided to give it one more day (the maintenance staff had apparently already gone home for the night) with the assurance that everything would be fixed by Friday afternoon.