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by Guest Writer Andrea
Lo, the Continental Divide stands between my Motee and I tonight.  For the next 730 days, Motee and I will be drawn apart by science.  Who knew that science would have such dramatic consequences for me?  I thought freshman bio was the last that science would torture me.  Oh no no, I was so mistaken. 

I think I’ll be seeing a lot of the Chicago-Midway airport in the coming months.  Rest assured, gentle readers, Our Hero is safe and comfortable in his apartment, even if his shopping options within walking distance are limited to liquor stores, carnecerias, and check cashing joints.  Oh yeah, and that “I got 99 problems — 4 shizzle” store.  Go see it for yourself!  You can’t make this stuff up. 

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I have been a little distracted lately. I didn’t get that illustrious fellowship I applied for a while ago…so, it’s on to plan b–flood the x-ray community with cover letters and vitae. Jerry was waxing about how wonderful it is to have “a lever” at this point in your career, where you can choose what you want to do and where to go…I honestly just want a regular old job that’s not in the middle of nowhere.

I’ve begun to second-guess what I always thought a job should entail. One of my old U of M buddies once described his work after chemical engineering as means for providing for his hobbies. At the time, I internally scoffed at such a dreary-sounding future, but it sort of makes sense sometimes. “Real” physicists have a reputation for living in their labs, and while I respect that image, I just feel it’s not me. Although I often feel like I should if I want to be “successful.”

Speaking of worrying, Lester’s got it bad lately. After a bit of research, his symptoms fit perfectly with feline psyogenic alopecia. This was exacerbated by the fleas earlier, but he’s on advantage now and I haven’t seen or felt fleas in weeks. If it is what I think it is, the root cause is, regrettably, Echo. Or maybe it’s just ptsd from Smudge terrorizing him earlier. In any case, he’s been looking pretty threadbare ever since the other cat’s been around. Hopefully it will go away when Kate returns from Shung-hai. (that’s how she pronounces it at least)

Nubia’s dog, Sam, died last night. We were all eating pizza after a long day of nothing..shortly after Nubia left to catch a bus, Andrea got the call and we rushed over. When we got there we saw Nubia frozen in front of her window, too shaken to go in. I don’t blame her. I’ve never dealt with a dead pet like that…they’re so cold and rigid, like the opposite of their former selves. Especially Sam, who was such a lively two-and-a-half-year old mutt. After a few phone calls, we found a place that would cremate Sam that night so we wrapped him up in a sheet and brought him there. Kind of a nondescript way to go, but I think it was necessary. I don’t know if there’s much you can or should say to Nubia at this point, but we will all miss Sam too…

[sorry for the abrupt transition, but…] I’ve started applying for jobs, and I have a couple ambitious targets in the early going. Both these jobs are fellowships for starting your own lab, which is thrilling, but intimidating. On the way, I made my first CV, and it has an embarrassingly large number of unpublished papers on it…but I’m confident that I can get most of them submitted before I’m out of here.

One other random thing: I’m cooking up heaps of chili and cornbread up tonight and will probably watch some of the hawks game tonight so if anyone wants some food, you should call.

So, I’ve fiddled with things a little on the new page and uploaded an image from a bike trip by gasworks park tonight for the banner. The sun was really low and was saturating the camera, rendering some of the stuff virtually transparent. It was a nice break from things. I also added a recipes page to keep track of cooking stuff. I put the simplest little recipe there for starters.

…In other news, I’m graduating soon and I’ve run out of degrees (in physics at least). I don’t remember how I ended up in physics…my dad recommended it and I really liked my intro teacher and his memorable tangents into complex numbers and general relativity…but most of my undergraduate schooling is a little hazy. I just sort of finished classes and, almost seamlessly, entered grad school and kept taking the same old classes, only harder this time, with occasional tangents into saddlepoint integration and synchrotrons. In some sense, I feel like I never emerged from that haze.
Or maybe the haze just became tighter…since then my work has focused and I now feel like I understand the <inhale> momentum-transfer-dependence-of-non-resonant-inelastic-x-ray scattering-from-core-shell-electrons <exhale> well enough to say it in one breath (on second thought, I like the acronym qIXS)…but I’m still unsure what I want to do when I grow up. Something similar…but with a different and more science-y bent…and I’ve got a few months to figure that before really hitting post-doc openings and fellowship proposals hard. That means I have to start hitting the current literature hard to find what looks interesting and new and fundable. It’s been fun developing qIXS, but I’ve got to find something else..and fast.

wish me luck!