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What do I do? [Aug. 20th, 2007|04:04 am]
A perfectly reasonable question I often get asked is "what do I do?". Professionally, that has finally stabilized, now that I have a project that I will be working on for the foreseeable future. But as for other aspects of my life, I don't really have a good answer to that question.

I haven't been back to my hometown for about seven months, which if my memory serves me correctly, makes this the longest period I have been away. It's not that I don't want to be there, but "what would I do?" My last several visits there have left much to be desired. When I'm there it's usually during holiday seasons, and being a college town, that's exactly when people are away and not much happens there. Also, when I'm there I stay with my parents, and even if they tried their best they'd be inherently limited in their ability to keep me entertained, given our differing interests. Not that they do even that; it feels like half of my time there is taken up by doctor's appointments, shopping at chain stores, and various other tasks that I feel could be accomplished just as well if not better elsewhere. I'm sure many of my friends from my childhood are still there, but I sometimes wonder if I've grown so distant from them that it'd be too hard to catch up. It's sad, given I feel that among my family I'm the one who felt the most at home in the town and in the state. Maybe it's just the time and distance I've spent away from there that have distilled my thoughts of there, being reminded of it by what I'm missing here, whether I really had it there or not.

Not only have I not been in my hometown for a while; I have stayed within city limits continuously for the past four months. My quick explanation for that is that I've been busy doing research. But that is at best an excuse and at worst a lie. If I knew where I wanted to go, or if had someone to see, I surely would have sought the time and means to do so. I've been in this part of the country for two years now, not far from many of my college friends, but only once have I gone out of town to visit anyone, and not once have I had someone visit me. As I have more flexibility in my time than I used to, I should start taking the initiative rather than just waiting for someone to show up or invite me. The means of doing so, on the other hand, is a less trivial issue. My movements have pretty much been confined to places I can reach on foot. Bus routes get me places a little faster but don't cover much extra ground, and don't run at all during weekend daytimes. Without a vehicle, places otherwise considered nearby seem hard to get to, leaving me unable to take myself there, much less taking anyone else.

So what do I do here? My old excuse was that I was busy; quite justified, given how much I struggled with classes and exams. But that doesn't apply, nor was that the whole story when it did. One of my deep disappointments about my life here is how poorly I connected with many of my classmates in my department. Rather than being a group I could lean on for support, they became an additional source of frustration. I keep them at a distance now, but this leaves a void where there would otherwise be an obvious group of people I would be spending my time with. At times, I'd feel there are few people, if anyone, I could turn to for attention. Lately I have been gravitating more toward those in the same part of campus as I am. Do I share their interests? Would they want me to be a bigger part of their lives? There is potential with them, but it remains largely untapped. I've missed perhaps a year's worth of shared experiences; I hope it's not too late to catch up.

So what do I do? I've just written an entire entry about what I'm not doing, but I still haven't answered the question. Perhaps you can help me answer it.
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One thing about bear cubs: they always do what they're told. And so do we! [Nov. 7th, 2006|03:30 am]
[music |Katie Melua - Spider's Web]

I could tell you to go to war,
Or I could march for peace and fighting no more,
How do I know which is right,
And I hope he does when he sends you to fight.

In the morning I will cast the most difficult vote I have had to decide upon. Politics....Collapse )

I will vote. And I think I know who I'll be voting for. And I hope it will be the right decision. And I will leave the polling place, live my life, and have fun seeing how it all turns out.
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Looking for lab in all the wrong places [Sep. 12th, 2006|03:20 am]
Finding a lab to do my thesis work in has been frustrating. By this time most of my classmates have already joined a lab and are well on their way toward qualifying, while I'm still rotating, uncertain whether this will finally be the one I settle with. Some rotations I had a great time in, while others I was glad to be done with. A couple I felt at the time they could have worked out, but in hindsight it would have been a horrible mistake if I had continued with them. Some I wish could have given clearer signals that they weren't going to take me, that I wouldn't get my hopes up only to have them crushed when the question ultimately had to come up. For the last couple I felt I had to make them work out despite any misgivings I had, for I didn't know what I would do if they failed. Nevertheless, those outcomes were beyond my control, and upon reflection they didn't take away from my suitability for this profession. So I guess this time I'll be a bit more patient. This one might be the one, but there are other labs out there if this isn't.
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Don't blame me, I voted for .... [Aug. 9th, 2006|12:49 am]
[mood |draineddrained]

Disappointed at slightly over half of the electorate. Again.
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Yet another quiz from guinevere33 [Apr. 20th, 2006|07:19 am]
Despite the supposed flaws in this quiz, the results turned out fairly accurate for me.

You scored as Old School Democrat. Old school Democrats emphasize economic justice and opportunity. The Democratic ideal is best summarized by the Four Freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.


Old School Democrat




New Democrat


Foreign Policy Hawk




Pro Business Republican


Socially Conservative Republican


What's Your Political Philosophy?
created with QuizFarm.com
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Without her you would have never set out on the road. [Mar. 19th, 2006|10:45 pm]
[mood |indescribable]
[music |Various Rene Liu albums]

I could give a play-by-play of last weekend, but I'd bore myself if I tried to write that. Nevertheless, it was good to meet up with a lot of people I haven't seen or even talked to since graduation.

I've been toying with the idea of visiting my alma mater for a while (as mentioned in an earlier entry), and I figured last weekend was the only chance I'll get to do it for a while. Due to stuff I had to attend to in the lab and a possible cold or allergies, plans to make this trip at all were not definite until I was on my way; I figured it would be better to pleasantly surprise my friends rather than get their hopes up and then cancel on them. Fortunately, I live close enough and the transportation infrastructure is in place such that I could make such a trip without many prior committed steps. I did call the house and made sure a room was available for me, but pretty much no one else knew I was coming when they saw me.

Thus the trip was shaped largely by chance encounters, starting from the bus terminal in New York. A couple of people were involved in planning an event, so I attended that, but otherwise people were wholly unprepared for my arrival and had to come up with means to entertain me without any prior notice. Given that it was the weekend before spring break there, the most time some people had to spare was a quick chat interrupting their studying, but I found even that to be very fulfilling.

One event I knew was supposed to happen were my fraternity's weekly meetings. For the first time I got to meet the next generation of my chapter; overall, it seems the chapter will be in good hands with them. While some conflicts have erupted since my departure, they appear self-isolating and hopefully will not spread beyond the few brothers they currently involve. Despite being away and largely out of contact with the chapter, I once again felt like an active brother, if only for a weekend. This warmth and friendship is one of the things I cherish the most about my undergraduate years, and is something I am still searching for here.

Of couse I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to see and do everything I wanted to do. But that will never happen. Years after my graduation, even after everyone I know there moves on and the campus and town are transformed beyond recognition, there'll be a part of me wishing to once again set foot in my alma mater.

Closing with a few words from Cavafy,
Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.

P.S.: Sorry I didn't get to talk to you, dianediem; I hope we'll get another chance to meet and catch up on everything.
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Quiz from guinevere33: [Mar. 2nd, 2006|08:35 am]
The Peroxisome
You scored 53 Industriousness, 25 Centrality, and 38 Causticity!
You are the peroxisome!

The peroxisome is an important organelle in that it detoxifies almost all toxic substances entering the body by oxidizing them into hydrogen peroxide, and then further detoxifies the peroxide into harmless water and oxygen. You are the reason we have any sort of resistance to toxic substances.

In real life, you are always working in the background to make sure everthing runs as it should. You tend to be very good at handling situations requiring tact, or fixing potentially volatile situations with your good humour and charm.

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 40% on Industriousness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 17% on Centrality
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 91% on Causticity
Link: The Which Cell Organelle are you? Test written by fading_shadows on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test
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Am I that interesting? [Feb. 18th, 2006|06:35 pm]
Two midterms next week I should be studying for, but I guess I'm overdue for a substantative post....

I'm still rotating through labs; I still haven't decided whether I'll join a lab at the end of this round or do a fourth rotation. My first rotation should have been pretty interesting; the project was essentially what I hoped for in my applications and interviews, and we should be hearing a lot out of this lab and this field. However, my own project didn't really get anywhere, and as of now I don't foresee myself joining that lab. There was an incompatibility between the glass slides and the protein libraries that were to be printed on them, not really discovered until the end of my rotation; given that my project was to run assays on these printed slides; I couldn't get much done. I could have done some of the enzyme preparations, but between not being able to see the results of my work and time needed for midterms, presentations, and the NSF predoctoral fellowship application, I couldn't afford much time on it.

My second rotation went a lot better. I was assaying a different set of enzymes, though this time the techniques were more tried and true, and we knew to try something else when one thing or another didn't work. Also, by that time I was a bit more settled in, so I could manage my time in the lab better.

To qualify for PhD candidacy, we will be required to present two different research proposals, of which only one I will actually do my thesis on. As my last two rotations did not involve much biophysical or structural analysis, I'm supposed to do some this time around. Given my performance in last semester's course on the subject, this would be a challenge for me, but hopefully they'll make it palatable enough for someone with a background in microbiology and a primary interest in biochemistry rather than biophysics.

This semester's courses don't seem as bad as last semester's. It feels that this semester's courses emphasize more physical chemistry-based material rather than the theoretical physics of spectroscopic techniques last semester. The energy and enthusiasm of one of the professors teaching this course in a way reminds me of my high school chemistry, who deserves a lot of credit for me going down this path. We also had a biologically-based course each semester. Last year they put both of them in the same semester; I suppose reading several papers a week on stuff like Sacchromyces transcription complexes was a bit much for everyone.

Coming to a new place, it is always a challenge to find a social circle in which I feel at home, with people I can talk to about anything. An obvious place to start is classmates within my program, but at times I feel many of them are more friends of convenience than people I'd go out of my way to socialize with. Broadening my perspective to people in related program with whom I might share some classes, there are people I rather enjoy the company of; perhaps I can develop some closer friendships there. Also, as I mentioned in the previous entry, people potentially in next year's incoming class also look promising; I'll be waiting to see who among them decides to come here.

It's hard to think about it before midterms, but spring break will be approaching before I know it. Being first-year graduate students, we are in a sort of limbo between undergraduates, where leaving for spring break is common practice, and PhD candidates, where taking spring break is practically unheard of. I suppose at this point I could do something that falls between the two extremes. I guess I could go back to Indiana for some time, though I can't think of what I'd be doing there. Despite my location on the Northeast Corridor, I haven't taken advantage of this opportunity to explore the nearby cities or visit my alma mater. I said this to myself around Thanksgiving but I didn't do anything about it. Nevertheless, it would be nice to meet up with some old friends and catch up on everything. Leave a comment or call me if you have any ideas.
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Biochemistry US Tour 2006 [Feb. 12th, 2006|06:03 pm]
The recurits are awesome. I hope we get them.

The Divinity School hill is nothing compared to Libe Slope, but it was nice to go sledding again.
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Who should I vote for? / Pour qui est-ce que je devrais voter? [Jan. 22nd, 2006|12:28 pm]
 http://www.PoliticsWatch.com/politicswatch3.gif (7887 bytes)

Home - PoliticsWatch Canada
Authored by PoliticsWatch.com | Powered by SelectSmart.com

Thanks for using the Politics Watch Vote Selector Quiz. The candidates who most closely match your political views are listed first. You must answer at least one question to obtain scores or rankings.

This vote selector quiz is intended only as an exploration of the campaign issues. At PoliticsWatch, we hope you will make your informed vote after fully exploring each leader and party's vision, platform, policies and integrity, as well as any other values you judge to be important qualities of a Canadian Prime Minister and governing party.

Gilles Duceppe
Bloc Quebecois
Stephen Harper
Conservative Party
Jack Layton
New Democratic Party
Paul Martin
Liberal Party

Your Results:

1. Paul Martin Leader of Liberal Party of Canada, Prime Minister of Canada   (100%)  Click here for info
2. Jack Layton Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada   (80%)  Click here for info
3. Gilles Duceppe Leader of the Bloc Quebecois   (60%)  Click here for info
4. Stephen Harper Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada   (53%)  Click here for info

(My results for the 2004 version of the quiz, taken now, show a preference order of NDP, BQ, Liberal, Conservative. 2000 gave me NDP, Liberal, BQ, PC, Canadian Alliance.)
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