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3rd-Jan-2008 08:29 pm - Goals for next quarter
yellow slug
Get 8.5 hours of sleep per night.
Get regular sleep.

To make getting up easier, set alarm on phone with two alarms. One will be 1.5 hours before class; the other will be 2 hours before class. After the first alarm, dismiss it and open your blinds. Go back to sleep. If possible, get up before the second alarm goes off.

To make going to sleep easier, meet your exercise goals and go to sleep at the same time consistently. Because you get up two hours before class at 9:00am, and you want 8.5 hours of sleep every night, and because you need 30 minutes to fall asleep, you should be in bed no later than 10:00pm every single night.

Pack a lunch every day.
Have healthful food in stock at all times during the week.
Don’t let food go to waste.

To prevent food waste, keep an inventory on the refrigerator of all perishable items you still have.

To avoid running out of healthful food during the week (including prepared lunches), plan out a shopping list for weekend trips to the grocery store. Write out a list of items that you should always have, and reuse this list every week. In addition to this, find a meal or two in your cookbook and purchase the items for those weekly meals. These leftovers can be used for some lunches. Other lunches should be made from your constitutive shopping list.

To ensure that you remember to make your lunch and have time, do it the day before and leave it in the refrigerator. If you do this every day it will also be easier to remember that it is there.

Get at least 30 minutes of intense cardiovascular exercise at least every other day.
Get at least 30 minutes of weight lifting once per week.

Go to the recreation center to run (or just run outside) an hour or two after eating dinner. If you ever know that the following day there won’t be time to go for a run, do it the night before, even if this means you exercise two nights in a row. This does not include lifting weights, which might be easiest to fit in on the weekends.

Apartment comfort:
Make my apartment a more inviting place for myself and for others.

Get another desk for your room on craigslist so that there will be enough workspace.

Buy a laundry hamper so your laundry doesn’t sit on the floor.

Add some more frog pictures to your wall.

Add some additional lighting to your room.

Vacuum the living room and your room more often.

Find consistent and quality study time so that you don’t have to cram before exams.

Spend more time in the library or at cafés (you need to find some). You get most of your work done when you are free from distractions and have set a large amount of time aside for reading and writing.

Stay current with the relevant literature.
Minimize your mistakes in the lab.
Maximize your completed work in the lab.
Make lab a comfortable place that you are not scared of.

Read at least one scientific paper per week. Look through journal updates carefully and ask co-workers and PI for good papers to read. Keep a folder of papers to read. Organize papers into folder by date (a folder for each season of each year) and have sub-folders for papers that have been read. Every week, read at least one of these papers thoroughly enough to move the paper to a sub-folder designating it as read. If you don’t find time for this during the week, do it during the weekend. Optimally, you should find time during lab to read up to a few papers per week.

To minimize mistakes in the lab, always have complete protocol in hand before beginning an experiment. This should be one that you have written, adapted from existing protocols, and have had double-checked by your PI or others in the lab. Keep a corrigendum on the protocol by recording errors in a lab notebook and revising the protocol with each experiment.

To maximize productiveness in the lab, don’t leave work until you have a plan for the next day. If you have anything big that you can do the following day, plan to do it the following day and prepare until then. Always try to do tasks as early as possible, and do as many as possible within the time you have.

To make lab a more comfortable place, meet the above goals, as well as bringing your lunch each day. It would also be a good idea to bring snacks and a water bottle to lab in case you stay late and get hungry.
26th-Jan-2007 12:56 pm - Invitation to Eugene
I have been invited to the University of Oregon in Eugene for interviews. They will wine and dine me, and everything is covered just like the others. I received a call this morning from the admissions office. My phone wasn't working yesterday because it was wet on the inside, but starting working again at the perfect time-- seconds after I put the battery back in this morning and turned it on. After agreeing on the time, I said that instead of being flown out I should just take the Amtrak train. This will be March 9 through 11, and I am thinking that I will get a return ticket a few stops before Seattle so that I can visit my family in Vancouver, Washington.
24th-Jan-2007 07:52 pm - Invitation to Aggieland
I just heard back from the graduate genetic group at Texas A&M that I am invited to see the campus from February 15 through 18. The letter elaborates:

The program in Genetics will provide most meals, lodging and round trip airfare during your visit to College Station. Please plan to arrive sometime in the late afternoon or evening on Thursday, February 15 and to return home on Sunday, February 18. Lodging arrangements have been taken care of and transportation to and from the airport will be provided.

I will be attending this, and have already written an instructor to move a presentation on a Marx reading that I have scheduled for the first day I'll be gone to another day if possible.

10th-Jan-2007 09:17 pm - Invitation to UC Irvine
2006 Q&A panelist
I received my first letter back from graduate schools I've applied to. UC Irvine wants to interview me. They will pay for the flight, accomodations and meals for the trip. I'll be gone the second week of February for this. Exciting!
9th-Jan-2007 04:05 pm - Reading with the girl
I love reading with the girl. Sitting across from each other at a café table, each of us reading diligently our own materials, is my favorite place in the world. The loveliness and intelligence of her presence is far more warming than that of a steaming hot cocoa or chai. When I drink in her scent, it is far more exhilarating than a shot of espresso. When our fingers touch, more calming than chamomile. When our eyes meet, I want the café never to close so that I may read in her company to no end.
8th-Jan-2007 08:52 pm - Fig Newton vs. Fig Bar
I purchased whole grain Fig Newtons along with Safeway brand whole grain fig bars and challenged some people with a taste test.

Participants ate one of each sample, then told me which one is better. I took mental notes. The experiment ended when my favorite sample was in the lead.

K: prefers Fig Newtons. Does not like the aftertaste of fig bars.

D: prefers Fig Newtons. Enjoyed the free snack.

Jo: prefers fig bars. He likes their texture more.

H: does not like fig anything.

Je: did not have a preference, but did insist that I get him a glass of water to take my test.

T: would not take my challenge with gum in his mouth.

S: prefers fig bar. She prefers the texture, but notes that Fig Newtons have a distinctive orange zest to them.

Me: fig bars.

The winner is Safeway brand whole grain fig bars, 3:2 against Fig Newtons. Future tests would include larger sample sizes. My personal preference is the fig bar, although I concur with S that the Fig Newtons have an orange zest, which I am fond of. Also, both samples are more stale today than at the time of the experiment, yet the Fig Newton more closely resembles its original consistency, a point in its favor. Fig Newtons are almost twice as expensive, making the fig bar far more attractive considering that differences in taste were found to be marginal.
7th-Jan-2007 11:27 pm - Three movies
yellow slug
I watched three movies this weekend. This is extraordinary; on average, I watch less than one movie per week.

The first movie I saw is called The Protector, staring Tony Jaa. He is a great martial artist. I first saw him in the movie Ong-Bac, popular for its "real" fighting and stunts-- there were no special effects, which is a rarity these days. Although I enjoyed Ong-Bac as a quality action movie, The Protector was a disappointment in that department. It did, however, make for a great cheesy movie to make fun of with friends, which I did do with pleasure. The scenes were terribly random, both the transitions between and the content of. At one point, Tony Jaa inspects a fallen enemy, and a passerby gets out of his car and walks up to the two of them with a knife. Tony Jaa turns around, then jumps high into the air so that he can kick the bulb of a street light. End scene. The movie is non-stop fighting as Tony Jaa seeks to find his two stolen elephants, breaking the ligaments of anyone and everyone that gets in his way. In Ong-Bac, Tony Jaa was reluctant to hurt anyone-- in The Protector, he was reluctant to pass by any stranger without breaking a joint. Tony Jaa eventually finds that his elephants are in the hands of a black market that sells rare animals as food. One of his elephants is dead, the other is a baby that accompanies him in the last fight. He fights a family of tall and muscular Irish men that are fond of throwing Tony Jaa around. The funniest part of the movie is when Hercules O'Brien (the name of a character he played in another movie, but a name like that vetoes all others) picks up the baby elephant, swings it around and throws it. Tony Jaa defeats the Irish men by using elephant bones to tear their ligaments for a happy ending. I give this movie a 3/10.

The next movie I saw is called Idiocracy, staring Luke Wilson. He goes into the future (I walked in after this part) where he finds that everyone is really dumb. The police arrest him on false charges, and his lawyer is so dumb that he helps the prosecution. Luke Wilson is thrown in jail and is given a bar-code tag and later an IQ test. He then gets out of jail before he enters by telling a guard that he already served his time and was on his way out until he got lost. The stupid guard lets him go. He is later found again because he tested with the highest IQ in the world even though he isn't really all that smart himself. He is appointed to solve the hunger problem, and figures out that all the crops have died because they have been watered with a sports drink. When the president bans the sports drink from being used, half the nation goes out of work and wants to kill Luke Wilson. His execution is setup at a monster truck show. The audience sees footage of growing plants right before he is killed, so they don't kill him and instead make him president. The details of this movie are what make it funny; it is incredibly sarcastic and engaging enough that I watched the entire movie (from the point I came in close to the beginning) standing up, so as to watch it in a housemate's room. I give this movie an 8/10.

The last movie I saw is called The Illusionist, staring Edward Norton. I was hesitant at first to watch another movie this weekend, but everything that I have ever seen with Edward Norton has been fantastic, so I took a seat and watched with my housemates; this film was no exception to the Edward Norton Rule. It starts out with Edward Norton as a young man with Illusionist skills. He meets a girl about his age that he likes but she is always drawn away by her aristocrat parents because he is of low class. After running off together and getting caught, she is taken away never to be seen with him again. Switch to adulthood. Edward Norton is an on-stage performer in Austria that puts on Illusionist shows by himself that are very popular. One night, he brings a spectator onto the stage for a trick. The prince of Austria sends his fiancée onstage and the two recognize each other. She is his childhood friend. She later meets him again-- this time clandestinely-- and they each profess to have been longing for each other ever since they were separated. He asks her if she wants to run away with him. She says yes, but that it would never work because the prince would hunt them down and kill them. She returns to her fiancé and tells him that she can't marry him and darts out. Drunk, he chases her out with his sword. She is next seen riding away on a horse with a fatal wound and is found in a river. The chief of police tells the prince that he wrote a letter himself to the the king telling them that he knew the prince had killed her (he had plenty of evidence, developed over most of the movie). The prince pulls out a gun to kill the chief of police, but feeling helpless as more police swarm into town to arrest him, shoots himself. The chief of police later finds that Edward Norton ran away with his childhood friend, who is still alive, and everything about her death was an illusion. She was not stabbed-- the prince was given a drink that made him pass out, and she painted a fake wound on herself. She also placed jewels from his sword and her necklace on the ground to make him look guilty to the chief of police who found them. In the end, the couple was able to run away together without the fear of an angry prince following them forever. The grand illusion that they played only became clear at the very end, which felt like the Sixth Sense in that the entire movie was explained in the final instant. I give this movie a 9/10.
24th-Nov-2006 09:56 pm - Vancouver slugs
2003 grass
Right now I am in Vancouver, Washington visiting my family for Thanksgiving. It has not rained at all today, but is still very wet from a week filled with showers. Right now is the perfect time for slugs to come out-- it is night, damp but not currently raining, and not too cold. I went out to the backyard and took some pictures with my camera phone, but the slug-seeing is just too good to be captured by on-the-go technology. I went back into the house and grabbed the family's digital camera and searched for a while to find my childhood magnifying glass. When I returned outside the slugs hadn't gone anywhere, and they still had their eye-stalks happily extended even after the numerous flashes I subjected them to from my camera phone.

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Last time I was here there were only Spanish slugs, and most all of them were adults. The majority of the slugs I saw tonight were babies, and none of them were Spanish slugs. Perhaps they all scurried away (slowly, of course) after I stole one last time to put in a box to take up to Seattle. I'll check again tomorrow; I might see some Spanish slugs and possibly some other new ones. I am quite surprised that at least three types of slugs share this backyard as their niche. These mollusks have my attention, and I will be out there again tomorrow with my magnifying glass, camera, and flashlight.
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