Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Real Grad School Goal

When I started grad school my goal was to get straight As through the whole thing. Having solidly missed that goal after the first semester, my plan was vaguely to just ‘do the best I could.’ That’s still my aim, but I’ll add that the updated goal is to succeed in grad school while also being happy.

Actually, it would just be this:
Happiness > Stress

It’s a work in progress. I sometimes consider what I want/need, and some of it’s just not possible. For instance, it would be great if my immediate family and closest friends were geographically closer.  But they’re not, and I can’t change that.

However, there are other things! Giving myself breaks (from schoolwork) helps, but maybe not always as much as I think it does. I’m learning that I need to do other things besides school, not just take breaks from school. Softball was one of those things, and also a way to be social. Now that the season’s over, I’ll (hopefully) still spend time with the team occasionally, but we won’t have regular games. I’m trying to add in a few other activities, so that I have many sources of happiness outside of school. Here’s my current list.

  1. Reading books for fun. I just finished one that I’ll add to my booklist later, and I have two more lined up to start.
  2. Running. I’ve been three times in the past two weeks, which still isn’t a lot but is more than usual. My goal is to get up to 2-3x per week consistently.
  3. Scola choir. This is great because I get to be with people, sing, and have a daily Mass that I’m committed to going to once a week.
  4. French. When Kevan started learning French on DuoLingo I went back to it too, but now it’s been a long time since I’ve been on it. I did a few lessons today and a few lessons yesterday, and just that little bit of progress on another interest has felt really good.
  5. Generally committing to more social activities. This one will take the most work on my part, because as much as I need more friendship/social interaction, my inclination at the end of the day tends to be to hide in my room.

Perhaps you’ve already seen the illustration on the left, and of course I was pleased to find the modified version on the right which describes graduate school. As funny as this is, it’s not correct. If I dropped everything besides my thesis, I wouldn’t end up with a more timely submission, I would end up unhappy and burnt out. Whenever I sacrifice sleep or interests or friendships, I don’t have “more time” because my performance is so much lower that it takes me longer to make any progress on academic work.

Ultimately, I do better in grad school when I pursue other interests and activities because I come back to work refreshed and in a healthy state of mind. Plus, I’ll come out of grad school with strong friendships and maybe even other skills in addition to that degree. So that’s my real grad school goal.



Apartment Gardening

As it’s been getting colder, my outdoor plants have been getting close to the end of their lives. This afternoon I pulled out most of the old stuff and planted tulip bulbs!

Summer plants – alyssum and coleus. I bought little plugs at the beginning of the summer and they were very happy here, where they had sun for about 4-6 hours from morning to early afternoon. 
I had to be a little strategic about the placement because it wouldn't be ideal for them to try to grow up through the wire.
I had to be a little strategic about the bulb placement because it won’t do for them to try to grow up through the wire. I also had to be very careful about not digging so aggressively that the whole planter would fall down.
I left the creeping Jenny in this one because I can’t remember if it’s supposed to grow back or not. It used to look much nicer than this, but is deteriorating as it gets colder. If it does survive, hopefully it doesn’t choke out the bulbs. It likes lots of water and I think that’s why my other flowers in this planter never grew.
Tulip Projection
For your convenience, I made a photo-realistic rendering of what it will look like if everything makes it.





















Now I just have to wait all winter. Luckily I still have all of my indoor plants to hang out with while it’s cold.


Hello there!
This blog is for sharing the little events of my life with my friends and family who are far away. (AKA almost everybody.)
Let’s jump right in!

  1. My cable bike lock was cut last week, but my bike wasn’t stolen. Weird. I also got lucky because Michelle’s bike actually was stolen. Anyway, it was lucky that my old U-lock and key were at my mom’s house, where I happened to go this past weekend, so no time or money lost there.
  2. Rachel and I went to see Nate Ruess in concert on Sunday evening. We got great, uncrowded seats up in the balcony and had a fabulous view of the stage. He had a very energetic stage presence and sounded good live. Though we didn’t get the old Format songs that we wanted, he made up for it with a couple of awesome covers – “Rocket Man” by Elton John and “Call me Al” by Paul Simon.
  3. I’m working on a design competition with some of my friends, so that’s a little extra added business. The submission date is October 23rd, so we have ten days to crank it out.
  4. I am on the Physics Department softball team, and we won our first game (ever) last week! We celebrated afterwards at mug night at the Blind Pig (discounted beers/cider if you bring your Blind Pig mug) with pie and ice cream.Running to first!