Last (paid) day in my doctorate laboratory tomorrow. Still churning out experiments up until the end. Shit. I may be in Saturday to do yet one more. We’ll see.

I still haven’t gotten the chance to go up to Toronto to find an apartment yet. That’s going to be on the docket for early next week.

I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact I need to be packed and ready to move in about two weeks. I am clearly going to lose sleep over this.

Apparently this week was not the week to start following YourAnonNews on Twitter. Fascinating amounts of information that I don’t usually catch through social media (aka Twitter and the once-a-month visit to Google News), but between the Boston Marathon bombing, the Ricin-laced letter threats, and now the West plant explosion, I think I’m getting overloaded on news.

My immediate family is flying out to watch me get cowled during commencement this spring at UB. This will be the first time my parents have ever come out to visit (second time for my brother) since I moved to Buffalo. Considering I haven’t been back home to visit in almost two years, this is going to seem a little weird and surreal.

So much random stuff flying around in my head, and so little time & motivation to get it all out. I hope things will slow down to allow me a breather once I get to Toronto and get settled in. If not, I’m probably going to end up very hermit–like for the first few months of my time there (due likely in large part to having to write a review for my postdoc mentor once I get there).

The phrase, “save me from myself,” comes vividly to mind right now. The next month is going to be all kinds of high–strung Jamie, through and through.

15. August 2012 · Write a comment · Categories: Grad Life · Tags:

My mind has been anywhere but one place lately. Being amidst the throes of finally finishing this PhD, I did not realize just how much extra crap came along with that. Instead of just finishing experiments, I’m doing that in addition to searching for post-doc opportunities and writing my thesis. Mark highly encouraged me to get as much (if not all) of the introduction done while I’m finishing up experiments. However, the frustration over just trying to get normal cDNA synthesis off of some RNA preps is driving me crazy right now, in addition to staving off the last few of my experiments (qPCR analysis of ~8 strains over 4 different genes).

Unfortunately, I could only wish that that was the extent of my mental spread. Here at home, I’m trying to deal with the craziness of Cori’s dog, who can be a real hellion when he wants to be. That is of an off-and-on nature, and more than anything just sours the mood I’m in if anything, because he seems to bipolarly swing between a sedated, relatively tolerable dog, and an insane brat with no regard for listening to anyone. Add that in with his tendency to overreact to any aggressive-like activity/motion/action, and I’m spending far more time concerning myself with what actions that I’m about to take than I probably should. However, he’s the sideshow to the disastrous ruin to my primary electronics at the moment.

At some point after moving into the new apartment, my Mac Pro started to have issues. It would spontaneously shutdown as if it was experiencing a thermal event (read: overheating), and the indicator lights on the mainboard indicated as much. The machine was far from being overheated, and other troubleshooting guides also dictated that this error can also be indicative of a failing power supply. Considering the power has been less than stellar in both this apartment and my last apartment, I figured it was finally time to get a line-conditioning UPS to help deal with power fluctuations. This appeared to have resolved the issue for a few weeks, but the problem has since returned. This evening, taking apart my Mac Pro once more to compressed air-blast out the heatsinks and power supply, I revisited booting it up again and watching the stability.

The system seemed stable enough. I was able to successfully rip another movie DVD to transcode it onto my file server, but I was watching the power supply temperatures in a paranoid fashion in the process. I typically keep an eye on this through the iStat Pro widget, but after reading some other forums on cooling issues in the pre-2009 Mac Pros, I fired up the full-blown iStat Menus to see the current draw in my system at the time. Upon closer inspection, I happened to notice a disturbing set of sensors: the CPU cores and the CPU heatsinks. The two CPU cores (this is a dual-processor system) were idling at approximately 65˚C, while their respective heatsinks were essentially at ambient (25˚C) temperature. Now, I know there is to be expected at least some difference between the two devices due to thermal transfer rates, but a difference of 40˚C (72˚F)?!? That’s just ridiculous! So, alas, it appears it is time for me to really gut my Mac Pro down to the motherboard, strip the heatsinks out, and reapply some thermal paste there. This won’t be an easy endeavor: I’m missing a tool necessary to unmount the heatsinks, and while I’m gutting everything open, it would apparently be in my best interests to reapply the thermal paste on the Northbridge chipset as well.

Oh. Did I mention I’m writing a thesis right now? Oh, yes, I did! And I need this machine for some of the structural renderings that I do, not to mention for designing figures in Adobe Illustrator. *facepalm*

To further complicate my electronics issues, I purchased upgrade components for my file server around 3-4 months ago and finally got to installing them about a week ago. Much to my dismay, I neglected to remember there was no PATA port on the motherboard. My entire FreeNAS operating system was on a CompactFlash card with an adapter running directly into the PATA port on the old motherboard. I no longer could use this after the upgrade, nor could I get it to boot from a CF->USB adapter. Apparently, the FreeNAS 7 project has since been renamed and updated to the NAS4Free project, with a full recoding of the OS off of FreeBSD 9.0, lending lots of new support to the project! Unfortunately, upgrading from FreeNAS 7 to NAS4Free was less than easily straightforward. But now that I had trashed being able boot my old FreeNAS 7 system, it seemed ironically convenient to make the upgrade now. So, for the past week, I’ve been trying to tweak that system into working again, so I can get back to backing up my lab documents on it and supplanting my evenings with the movies and television shows that I’ve transcoded from my discs to watch over the TV2 I have hooked up to the television. I’ll follow up with those issues a little more in the near future, as there is apparently little coverage of fixes for the bugs present in the NAS operating system so far.

So. To recap.

  • Busy trying to finish experiments.
  • Busy trying to troubleshoot early steps of final experiments.
  • Busy trying to write my introduction to my thesis.
  • Busy trying to figure out what the hell I’m interested in doing research on so I can properly scout for post-docs.
  • Need to start writing letters/emails to prospective post-doc mentors and get the interviews going.
  • Trying to keep my Mac Pro running, so I can use it to finish some of this lab experimentation/figure generation without incapacitating my poor little MacBook Pro.
  • Trying to get my file server going again so I can have some stress relief via some good ol’ cartoons when I get those moments of downtime.
  • Trying to learn more FreeBSD than I should have to in order to get NAS4Free running the way I need it to.
  • Trying to avoid getting chomped/bitten/otherwise maligned by the resident Eskimo doggie of the house when he’s well hydrated on Haterade.
  • Trying to lose some weight by biking to work, getting out and walking/running, and watching my diet.
  • Deciding what the fuck I still have to unpack, and what I should still leave packed, because I’ll likely have to move (again) for whatever post-doc position I take.

Honestly, I’d go bang my head on a wall somewhere if I knew I wouldn’t be wasting valuable time in doing so. I so so so SO can’t wait for this all to be over. And I do mean ALL of it…

Even though I had nothing really planned for the Labor Day holiday, the evening ended on a delightful note with a short-notice get-together put on by my landlords. Got delightfully intoxicated, met some new people, had fun chatting with said new people, and slept blissfully in the cool comfort of 50˚ overnight temperatures! Tuesday morning was a whole whizzbang of craziness, unfortunately.

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Life has seriously gotten away from me over the past six months. I think it’s about time I put an end to that. A migraine (or something awfully close to it) really put me down for the count on Sunday. Between trying to juggle work stuff and witnessing the flooding of my hometown through online footage, I think my body finally told me I need to chill the fuck out.

July is reconstruction month. Time to get some things back in check, get back to some other pleasures I’ve neglected, and reevaluate some previously set goals (that are far from within reach, unfortunately). But first, the body comes first…and no better way to recover a body than with rest and refreshing exercise…

I’m slipping again! I went from five posts in two weeks to, well, nothing for nearly a month. Boooo!

Life’s been a mess lately1. I snapped royally at work a couple weeks ago. I manned up and asked a girl for her number2. Cooking went to pot3.

Amidst all this terror’o’life bullshit, there’s at least a couple gems amidst it all. The big one? New York state has finally gotten my VW’s title and registration completely up to date!!! Now the bank can quit bugging me to get that updated per the terms of their lien when I refinanced the Jetta. Talk about a nightmare, navigating the NYS DMV system for the past five months. I have less and less appreciation for the bureaucratic system that is New York State, day after day. I wonder why??

Cooking is coming back this week. I perused my cookbooks last night and just flagged off dozens of recipes to try. I may need to limit myself to only one pasta dish per week, however. I’ve got nearly two dozen flagged recipes in my pasta cookbook alone!

I’m trying to avoid a fixed ‘this dish for this day’ planning this week. See if it makes things any easier. Then I can get through this 24oz of fresh mushrooms4 quicker, hopefully! The docket for this week is as follows:

  • Broccoli, onion, and mushroom quiche with Vermont cheddar cheese
  • Bacon, onion, chive, and thyme quiche with Swiss
  • Chicken and leek cobbler
  • Beef, onion, and mushroom stroganoff
  • Penne with roasted Marsala mushrooms
  • Tagliatelle bolognese ragù (once I get some ground skirt steak)

Yeah, I know there’s a lot of quiche (which I love) on there, but it doubles nicely as a breakfast, and I’m expecting leftovers of those to take over breakfast and not lunch cuisine. Let’s see if I can pull this stuff off and still have a life in the evenings. I have a BPO concert coming up this Saturday, which I was hoping to take a certain lady to, but it is quickly appearing I will have to find another guest to accompany me.

In the interim, I will be finishing laundry and chores before volunteering for a few hours at the Buffalo WinterFest Powder Keg in downtown Buffalo! Go check it out if you haven’t been to it yet (or last year)!

1<sarcasm>What a surprise, right?</sarcasm>
2Finally…for all the good (or lack thereof) that it has done me. I’ll elaborate later.
3No pun intended. I cooked well for that one week, cooked well for a second week, ate leftovers from the second week for the third week, and just ate like shit for all of last week. Also, each of those first two weeks, I basically worked all day, came home, cooked until 8 or 9, ate, did dishes, then went directly to bed. I need a little more free time than that…
4One and a half pounds of fresh mushrooms looks like a lot more than you would think! Dang!

This has been a week from hell. My stress load was through the roof, and I really thought I was going to crack and lose it a couple times throughout.

Especially Tuesday; it had turned out to be a 14-hour day whereupon I went home, had two beers, and then promptly slept.

Wednesday, I got some drinks and got to sleep semi-early that night.

Thursday, I left for work at 6:45am, went to Alternative Brews at 8pm for the Jets/Bills game in Toronto, went to Denny’s (under some mild peer pressure) after the game, and finally got home at nearly 1am. Less than enthused about the time at the bar1.

Friday, left for work again at 6:45am2 and took off semi-early so I could get a (dearly) needed haircut, deposit my paycheck, and then finally recover some. I really stood around bewildered for about five or ten minutes once I got home. I honestly can’t remember what I’ve done here all week besides sleep and eat breakfast. My dirty dishes for the whole week consisted of two plates and four bowls, plus some containers of food I had just emptied out ’cause they went bad. I’m not even sure what nights I ate dinner. Huh.

Committee meeting is this coming Wednesday. That’s why I’m stressing. It’s been a bit of a crappy year again, and I get ridiculous amounts of anxiety over the concern of having not achieved enough in my research. Talking with my advisor yesterday morning, he said his goal for me at this point is to get me a solid paper and a good post-doc lined up. It was disheartening to hear that. I really still had some hope/ambition for pumping out at least two if not four papers. I can get the second one if I can for-god’s-sake purify my damn protein, but without that I’ll be resorting to primarily genetics to sort out my protein and all of its suppressor mutations. Less than ideal for what I had hoped.

Kelly made me want to watch all the Underworld series again. I’m out of the know for the first two; it has been a while since I’ve seen them. I think those will be interspersing my desperate attempts to finish my committee meeting presentation this weekend. That, and helping myself to more stuffing and pumpkin pie. I have approximately 2/3 of a casserole dish of stuffing and an entire pumpkin pie left to consume. In the succinct words of Liz Lemon…


1The bar was also a licensed cigar bar as well, so the place reeked of smoke and active smokers. I really hate (on many different levels) smelling like smoke when I go home.
2There was a Lake Effect Snow Warning for the metro area, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to drive in fresh, slick, wet snow with all the other rush-hour idiots, especially if my tires are on the balding side of wear.