Saturday, January 23, 2010

Classes Spring Semester 2010

In case anyone wants to see what I am taking this semester, here is my schedule:

12:00- 1:00 Departmental seminar.
A class I have to attend and get no credit for, woo-hoo! Various faculty members and guests give power-point presentations on their recent research.

1:00-2:00 TA hours.
I am TA'ing Epidemiology II this semester. Epidemiology II is significantly harder than Epi I is, and I fully expect lots of panicked visits from students.

10:30 -11:45 Regression.
A bio-statistics class in regression techniques. Supposedly much easier than last semesters Categorical Data Analysis, but we shall see.

9:00 -11:45 Reproductive Epidemiology.
I am really looking forward to this class, since I know very little about how to measure birth outcomes, which is probably what I am going to be looking at in my thesis research.

1:00-2:15 Epidemiology II (the class I am TA'ing for)

10:30 -11:45 Regression.

1:00-2:15 Epidemiology II (the class I am TA'ing for)

Nature blogging, Racoon edition!

Why, hello there.

Last weekend, we were at home being domestic and doing some chores. Colin was in the attic investigating a possible roof leak, and I was sitting in the bedroom working on some Biostatistics homework. After about ten minutes in the attic I hear Colin call for me, saying that I have to come see something. I obliging trot over to the attic stairwell, mumbling the equivelent of 'this better be good darn it, I was in the middle of something...' to find Colin staring out the window. I go stand next to him and look outside at the veiw of Ent, the enormous tree that lives in our backyard. At first, I see nothing unusual, and then suddenly I spot the raccoon lumbering along a tree branch towards our neighbors roof. For a moment I thought the racoon was going to jump from the branch down on to the neighbors roof and then scramble down to the ground from there. He looked down onto the roof and seemed to be assesing his chances of a soft landing. After a few minutes, he turned around and headed back on the branch towards the tree trunk. At this point we quickly retrieved the camera and shot a couple of photos of our stripey new friend as he descended the tree and wandered off into the underbrush.

Displaying head down climbing technique.
I did not even know raccoons could climb both head up and head down!

Last shot before he lumbered away. Check out those awesome paws!

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Surfing Safari

I took surfing lessons while we were in Hawaii. This requires a back story. In order to encourage you to read the back story, I am going to cleverly place the photos at the end of this post.

First, the back story. Last year while we were in Hawaii, I made the decision that I wanted to learn how to surf. At the time, however, my swimming prowess had severely atrophied. Nora would not allow me to take surfing lessons unless I strengthened my swimming ability, since she was afraid that I would drown since I cannot float in water.  

So at the beginning of the academic year in August, we started going to the gym almost every morning. We did weights and swam. At first, I was a pathetic swimmer; I could barely make it across the pool without running out of breath or exausting my arm strength. But I slowly got better. I'm still not where I would like to be in terms of bodily strength and endurance, but I was strong enough to maneuver the board and to swim myself around without getting too tired. I feel much better health-wise than I did when I started (I sleep better, am in better mood, etc), so the experience has encouraged me to continue to swim and improve my health.

Now for the awesome photos that Nora took of me surfing. First, here is me sitting on my board waiting my turn.

And here is an action shot of me riding a wave in.

I'm the surfer in the front. This also shows off both Nora's impressive photography skills, and her camera's powerful zoom.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Cat Blogging: Snake Edition

Alex, the younger of my step-brothers, has a pet boa. Nora and I met Cookie Monster (that's what Alex calls him) for the first time while at my parents' house. Isn't he cute?

Cookie Monster eats mice, apparently. As opposed to cookies.

BONUS UPDATE: We also have an update on Poggibonsi, the cat that Nora sent to her parents. While we were at Nora's parents' house, we got to check in on him and his progress. They think he is a Maine Coon, which means he should eventually get big. Right now, he is just really fluffy.

Overall, Poggi seems very happy to be in his new home, and get along very well with his older brother Ruffus.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back from Vacation

We're back in New Orleans from our various vacations. We both apologize for the relative silence. But fear not; tomorrow will feature some awesome animal-based blogging.

Classes start up again for the University on Monday. Nora still has classes to take; she will probably post her schedule at some point. I am fully done with classes, and my teaching doesn't start up until a few weeks into the semester. So I just have research fo a couple of weeks. I passed my qualifying exams; I was formally notified the day before we left (which was apparently a bit slow). I'm told that I passed them quite handily, which I'm glad to hear. It's a huge relief to be done with them. They are enormously (surprisingly so) time-consuming to prepare for, so it's good to have that extra time again. And they are the big hurdle at which most physics students drop out of grad school. So it's good to be past that finally. On to research!

I will be presenting a poster at the American Chemical Society meeting in March in San Francisco, which is exciting. We are presenting a bit of work I did over the summer and the fall in between studying, and am continuing between now and the meeting. My time between now and the meeting is likley to be taken up finishing some experiments and assemblying the poster.