I Heart Science

After my last post about that cute t-shirt I like, I decided to play around with some t-shirt design using a site I have ordered from before: Spreadshirt. So I played a little bit and I decided to make a graphic of my own and upload it. Here it is:

I Heart Science

So I played around with that and I put it on some shirts, like this one:

Women's Heather Jersey Tee - Women I Heart Science Jersey Tee

You can check them out in my spreadshop. If by any chance you happen to be interested. At all.

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Yay! Serotonin

Wow, I really really want this shirt:

Serotonin Shirt

On the page where it’s for sale it says this:

One time I had a few too many glasses of wine at the restaurant and when I got home it wasn’t fun anymore and I cried and cried. True story. The doctor made it all better though, and I have the prescription to prove it.

I didn’t write that, but I could have.  It’s so perfect for me!

The Return of the Quals…dun…dun…dun…

Things are going well, but I’ve been really busy. The past few weeks I’ve babysat around 20 hours a week, managed a graduate class which requires a background in linear algebra, which I am weak in, put significant time into data analysis for one of the projects I am working on in my research, and I’ve also put some time into studying for my quals, take 2, which are on April 25th.

I have mentioned before how I failed my quals once already, so this time if I fail, I’ll be kicked out of the program. The program should have little incentive to kick me out: I’m first author on a paper with only myself and my advisor; I’m on a fellowship through a program the department participates in which is funded by the NSF; and I am now the senior lab member in the group of my advisor, who is up for tenure starting this spring-ish (ish because the tenure process is so very fuzzy and confusing to me). So I don’t think I’ll be graded particularly harshly, but I must do better than last time at least, to show improvement. They said I was “very close to passing” last time, so doing just a little better than last time should be worthy of a passing grade.

Anyhow, I’ve been studying for that, and it is overwhelming in its scope. I feel that I need to know everything I learned as an undergrad, when I was so depressed it was affecting my work and my learning, plus one class from my first semester of grad school, which was a little over a year ago now (and during which time I was busy getting married and taking a week off for my honeymoon). And I need to know all of that so well that I can do any problem they might toss at me within 45 minutes and with no books or resources to assist me…so that I can do 6 problems in 4 hours in a closed book exam with only my brain and my calculator. Is it just me, or does this seem like an archaic way of deciding who is worthy of a doctoral degree and who is not? I mean, in a modern world, with so much information at your finger tips that you can look up the Navier-Stokes equation in Wikipedia, isn’t being given minimal time per problem and not even any books, as inferior as those are to computer programs and internet resources, just completely out of touch with real, applicable situations?

To have at an instant thought all of the many equations I have learned in these classes is overwhelming to me. I enjoy and am maybe even good at research, but that is largely because I love solving problems and am very good at using the resources available to me. I am not, however, a memory bank of equations, nor do I have such a deep understanding of my subject that I can just draw up all of the equations out of the most basic of principles and relationships. Last time I tried to focus on the concepts, figuring that understanding well the meaning of each equation would help me to remember them, but sometimes I was left without the details of a needed equation. So this year, I’m not only going through practice problems, but I’m also being sure to memorize all of the equations, as mundane as I feel that to be.

As always, I am still spending time relaxing, chilling with my husband or meeting some friends downtown. I didn’t quite get so much sleep though, but I got a bunch this weekend, so I’m feeling more rested now. But I better go to bed, because I have to get up at 6:30!

Cute crafty aprons

meg, originally uploaded by angry chicken.

So I’ve been getting really into my creative and crafty side ever since I got a sewing machine for Christmas. I was checking out some of the most popular crafty blogs on the web, and I decided to add Angry Chicken to my google reader, so I’ll remember to stop by and check it out when I’m feeling crafty.

The author of Angry Chicken has a blog called Tie One On which is full of pictures of aprons that readers have made and sent pictures of, to go with different themes. The last theme was polka dot, and the Flickr gallery is full of cute and adorable aprons. I do not own and have never worn an apron, not since my childhood, but I splash myself when I’m washing the dishes and I think it would be nice to have one. So I’ll probably put it on my list of projects to consider at some point. The picture I chose here is of one that I think is so delightful, somehow retro and yet modern at the same time. I love the fit!  And then I did a little more digging and found that the person who made it for the Tie One On project has a crafty blog and she has started publishing her own sewing patterns, and that very apron has a sewing pattern available!  YAY!

The Manga Bible

Wow. A manga story of the bible, edited to include more action and less of the boring parts. This is pretty crazy. From The bible as graphic novel, with a sumurai stranger called Christ by Neela Banerjee at the NYTimes:

In a blurb for the Manga Bible, which is published by Doubleday, the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, is quoted as saying, “It will convey the shock and freshness of the Bible in a unique way.”

No doubt. In the Manga Bible, whose heroes look and sound like skateboarders in Bedouin gear, Noah gets tripped up counting the animals in the Ark: “That’s 11,344 animals? Arggh! I’ve lost count again. I’m going to have to start from scratch!”

Abraham rides a horse out of an explosion to save Lot. Og, king of Bashan, looms like an early Darth Vader. The Sermon on the Mount did not make the book, though, because there was not enough action to it.

The Manga Bible, originally uploaded by Flicka Mawa.

Science woman addresses professor workweeks

I wanted to share this post by ScienceWoman, because it addresses an issue that many of us young scientists are concerned with. The post is this: Ask ScienceWoman: What are your work hours? Can I be a professor part time?

One thing that sciencewoman doesn’t talk about is being a professor at an institution that is not as research oriented.  I’m sure the workweeks are still pretty busy at a place where your teaching load is 3 or 4 courses a semester, but there are other options as well.  A woman I know somewhat is a science professor at a 4-year institution that caters to students such as those who are the first from their family to go to college.  It is teaching focused, but she has lab space and is encouraged to work on research as well.  I do not think she got much research money as part of her start-up package, so she is responsible for finding her own funding for research, and teaching is definitely the main thing.  She is also a mom, and the last time I spoke to her I thought she said she was going to campus maybe 3 or 4 days a week.  I’m pretty sure her daughter is not in full-time daycare.  I wish I knew more about her situation, because it seems very appealing to me, but she is the wife of one of my husband’s long-time friends, and I don’t see her that often.  But I just wanted to talk about this a little bit, to flesh out some more of the options that I believe are out there for people like the one who wrote to sciencewoman.

Cat Wisdom: Yes We Can!

I think it’s time for a new quote. And since Barack and Hillary have been on my mind a lot (Husband and I spend a good amount of time talking about politics and researching information about the candidates), I wanted to share this quote from the debate. Husband and I are very, very enthusiastic about the election this year…for a long time I was feeling jaded and apathetic, like it didn’t matter, it would be more of the same and the democrat wouldn’t be progressive enough to get done what we wanted. But that’s changed. There’s a real atmosphere of enthusiasm, of inspiration and motivation, of the feeling that we CAN do these things. We can make the changes and move in the direction we want. Of course I realize there’s still going to be the slow pace of change overall – it takes generations for opinions to change drastically, for society to really strive towards equality. But here, now, is the time, the time for a major stride forward. The time for the first black or female president of the US! That’s exciting on its own, but what’s also exciting is the policies that they’re advocating are more liberal than I ever would have thought possible even a year ago. Back when Sicko came out, I thought a national debate on universal health care was out of our reach. And yet here we are, with both candidates making major promises to reform the health care system.

For much of my life I’ve dreamed about what it would have been like to live through the 1960s and 1970s in America. The civil rights movement, the second wave of feminism, Vietnam war protests…Martin Luther King, Gloria Steinem, JFK…hippies, woodstock, the early days of Bob Dylan. Now, major players from that era are coming out and endorsing Obama. Ted Kennedy is having a great time on the campaign trail for Obama, and as you watch the videos you can see the enthusiasm in the crowd. People are coming together around hope! JFK’s daughter Caroline Kennedy has come out to endorse Obama, saying “I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.” Even the Grateful Dead are reuniting to play a benefit concert for Obama. And current artists are coming out to fight for him:

Celebrity-filled music videos have been used to support many social movements, from famine relief for Africa, to support for American farmers, to opposition to apartheid in South Africa.

But rarely have celebrities and musicians banded together to create new music in the heat of a presidential campaign.

The Black Eyed Peas’ frontman, songwriter and producer known as will.i.am, along with director and filmmaker Jesse Dylan, son of another socially active musician, Bob Dylan, released a new song Friday that attempts to do just that.

I wanted to embed the video but I seem to be having some difficulty. Watch it here.

There’s so much excitement in the air. Last week’s debate made me proud and happy to be a part of this, which is a feeling I hadn’t had in a long time – it seemed so historic, to watch a woman and a black man as the only two candidates left vying for the democratic presidential nomination, and in a year where there’s a good chance that he or she will become the next President of the United States. One thing in particular that made Husband and I happy was this statement of Obama’s:

So the question is can we restore a sense of balance to our economy and make sure that those of us who are blessed and fortunate and have thrived in this economy, in this global economy, that we can afford to pay a little bit more so that that child in east Los Angeles who is in a crumbling school, with teachers that are having to dig into their own pockets for school supplies, that they are having a chance at the American dream, as well.

So, finally, here is the new cat wisdom quote, from the speech that inspired the Yes We Can video:

We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics…they will only grow louder and more dissonant ……….. We’ve been asked to pause for a reality check. We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope.

But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

Now the hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people; we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea —

Yes. We. Can.

~Barack Obama