Sunday, March 16, 2008

nice little random free things

Aah... (That's a happy sigh, not a freaking-out one).

Things are coming together with this whole dissertation thing. I need to turn in my mostly-final copy to my thesis committee on Friday of this week. I nearly killed my brain doing nothing but working, eating some, and sleeping this past week trying to get everything pulled together, but it's paid off. An quick trip to the chiropractor helped to relieve a bunch of the pain that I had accrued in my neck and shoulders from doing computer work so intensely, and I've been able to sleep.

Of course, as soon as I had pulled all of my text, tables, figures, and references together into one file and sent it off to my advisor for a final look-through, a few non-niceties occurred. The journal article I had sent in for review got rejected. Bleh. I realized that I had a few more sets of data to analyze that require a statistics computer program we don't have in the lab and I've been borrowing the use of from a friend who has her own data to analyze and really doesn't need me stealing her computer any more. Blah. I finally read the formatting requirements for the University's electronic dissertation thingy, and it means I have to figure out how to do some new things with Word that I don't know yet and I have to shorten a couple sections of my dissertation because they're too long - being concise has never been my strength. Pooey.

Well, little by little those things are also getting untangled from the mess they seem to have created. My advisor has chopped up the one section I wrote to make it successfully fit into the allotted space (I have to read his revisions, but I'm thinking they'll be okay...he's pretty good at not being too wordy). I have a new plan for the journal article, and having written my entire dissertation already means that it will be semi-easier to put in a few extra parts that I had been trying to keep out of that particular manuscript...just cut and paste from the dissertation!

And the most lovely thing occurred with the statistics issue...I was Googling around trying to locate an online calculator that would do a Kruskal-Wallis test for me and having no luck and then started to give up on that and look into Bonferroni corrections instead since I am never quite sure if I have accurately taken them into account, when lo and behold the program I had been using at my friend's is available for a 30 day free trial. Yay!!! Now I can analyze as much data as I want to. I'm so geeked! I really, truly am. GraphPad Prism, the statistical package I am referring to, is so user friendly. I haven't been using it for its intended use -- it's technically a graphing program and makes pretty, pretty pictures with only a few clicks of buttons, and that is so incredibly wonderful. Now that I have it on my computer, I actually am inclined to make all of my dissertation graphs over again using the program, but I have a feeling my time would be much better spent doing something else.

I think...that this might all work out somehow. The dissertation defense date is April 4. ...Can I make it until then...????

Monday, March 10, 2008

everybody needs sleep

I recall quite distinctly the Sesame Street montage of "Everybody Sleeps." I thought the most wonderful way to sleep would be the little girl in the car seat (can you believe those were considered safe!?!?!) with the wind blowing through her hair. The second best way would be floating on an air mattress in a pool.

I've been reminded of the importance of sleep over the past couple days. I skimped on the sleep last Thursday, and I think that set me up for getting a coworker's cold/flu thing, because I'm feeling rather under the weather now. Bad time to get sick -- I have less than two weeks to get my PhD dissertation handed in to my thesis committee. AAAK! I have thus been working day and night at writing, rewriting, researching, making figures, etc. And sometimes that's meant I've forgotten I need to sleep.

But...thanks to my rabbit Joelle, I've remembered.
I have not often observed Joelle sleeping. In retrospect, this is probably due to the fact that rabbits are crepuscular and thus are most active in the mornings and evenings, which happen to be the times that I am at home and in the presence of Joelle. Over the past several weeks, however, I've been doing more work from home. When she's not chewing up my computer cords, Joelle usually rests in one of her favorite places. But even then, I had not really seen her sleeping in those places, although it's kind of hard to tell with all that hair. Either she's getting TIRED of me being home all the time or she's getting sick (let's hope not!) or she's exhausted because it's shedding season or maybe I've just been paying more attention -- but as the weeks have worn on, I've caught her sleeping more and more often!
Her favorite place these days is under the pink chair.
No, no - not on it -- UNDER it!
More rarely I've found her asleep in her "house" (cage).
Yesterday I thought I saw her sleeping but wasn't sure: she was twitching her ears and chewing now and then. It reminded me of the puppies I've had who would all but run while having a dream. She was indeed asleep, and Joelle was having a pretty intense dream!! I wonder, what do rabbits dream of...?

I'm thinking I'd better take a lesson from the wise bun and get some more rest myself. Sleeping is, after all, very necessary for keeping people and rabbits alike in healthy, cheerful, good working order. And I think it also contributes to cuteness, too.

Friday, March 07, 2008

changes, changes

I'm still here. Nothing hugely new to report on -- there was the temporary loss of my computer's functionality (and potentially my entire dissertation), but that got resolved rapidly when what was first diagnosed as a motherboard frying turned out just to be an overheating of the...some computer part that caused the whole machine to shut down and refuse to turn on.

I met with a mentor of mine on Tuesday, and we got to talking about politics. She and I are both life-long independents, I think because we can't wholly agree with any party (or any other sort of "institution," for that matter...). However, she shocked me by saying that in the heat of all this too-close-to-call of the Democratic presidential candidacy race she made the decision to register as something so that she can participate in the primary in April. If she can do can I! At least for the primary season (is that bad? that legal?). And so, assuming the voting people have processed my request, I am not an official party member. Don't count on that change lasting, though, folks! But, you never know.