Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The other day, I received these 14 letters in the mail:

The letters are pretty much identical, telling me that the Royal Bank, to whom I owe millions of dollars and my first born in student loans, has changed some system, so all my student loans have different account numbers now. Instead of sending me one letter saying account numbers “A, B, C…” have been changed to “X, Y, Z…” they sent 14 separate letters! 14 envelopes, 14 stamps and 28 pieces of paper! And what’s more, I already knew about this because I got an electronic message in my online banking telling me the same thing.

But what really annoys me is that it interferes with my strict policy of completely shutting any thoughts of how much money I owe out of my head. If I were to think about how much money I’ve borrowed to be able to go to school for the last decade, I’d surely jump off a bridge. And knowing that the time when I will actually have to start dealing with this crushing debt is fast approaching is a scary proposition indeed.

Does anyone know of any good post doc positions that pay six figure salaries?

{August 20, 2005}   Irrelevant, but Funny

OK, this has nothing to do with my thesis, but it’s just damn funny.

Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory.

{August 18, 2005}   Update

OK, so I now have a draft of chapter 1 that I’m happy enough with to have others read. It’s been a long haul writing it (it’s over 60 pages now!) and I have been entrenched in it for so long that I can’t even see straight when I try to read it, so here’s hoping that it’s OK!

So, here’s where I’m at now:

a draft of chapter 1
a final version of chapter 2
a draft of chapter 3
next step: write chapter 4

I’m not expecting chapter 4 to take me as long to write (I mostly have what I want to say in my head and it won’t be nearly as long as the lit review), so I really should just dive right into it (as I know I have a terrible habit of not being able to start a new chapter once I finish a previous one).

{August 17, 2005}   Interesting fact

The pig “is the only species, other than human, that has a preference for alcohol” (Cudd, 2005).

I got a request for a reprint of my article from someone at Tel Aviv University in the mail today:

Pretty cool, eh?

I don’t think people get many reprint requests anymore (although this is my first paper, so I could be wrong) because so many universities have quite good access to the scientific literature (and usually as e-journals at that). It’s yet another thing that separates the wealthy nations from the less wealthy nations…

On a completely shallow note, I like that I’m addressed as “Dr. M.E. Simpson” on this card.

{August 15, 2005}   T.O.T.B.

I couldn’t stand to spend another sunny day indoors, so decided to do some T.O.T.B. (thesis on the beach). Made the trek down to Wreck Beach with a pile of papers that I needed to go over to write the last section of my lit review chapter. Dave is working on a paper, so he too brought some articles to read. Even though it was almost 4 p.m. by the time we got there, it was totally hot and so we took a refreshing dip in the water (which is painfully cold when you first go in, but is awesome once you get used to it). Then actually got some reading done. At one point, Dave looked over my shoulder as I was reading something that was talking about arginine vasopressin (AVP) and wanted to know why he didn’t get to do a thesis on Alien vs. Predator. Isn’t that the question that we all ask ourselves, sooner or later?

{August 13, 2005}   Epiphany

I’ve just realized something major. I’d filled out the Thesis Timeline Worksheet wrong. I actually have waaaaaay more time than I thought I did to get this thesis written. I’m a complete idiot!

Here’s what happened. I had filled out this handy-dandy Timeline Worksheet from the Faculty of Grad Studies (FOGS) that lets you figure out when you need to have stuff done and determined that in order to defend my thesis in mid-November, I would need to have it submitted to FOGS to go to the External Examiner by Aug 30.

Looks all well and good, right?

Now that it’s Aug 12, I’ve come to accept that that’s not going to happen, as one of my supervisory committee members goes on vacation on Aug 16, so I would have needed to give her my thesis to read about 2 weeks ago in order for her to read it before she leaves.

So, I’ve talked to my supervisor and set a new and improved deadline for submitting my thesis for examination. She was surprisingly nonchalant about the whole thing (“oh yea, it always takes you a semester longer to write than you think it will,” “no one ever makes that deadline anyway”) — a far cry from the “we won’t be missing any deadlines!” that I heard back in May when we first discussed it.

Anyway, I decide to re-do my Timeline Worksheet and make this discovery of how remarkably stupid I am.

I assumed that to calculate date “C”, you took Date B and subtracted 6-7 weeks (since in the calculation before it, you used Date A and in the calculation after it, you use Date C… so Date A, then Date B, then Date C, right? Wrong! Apparently Date A, Date A, Date C makes more sense to them. You need a friggin’ Ph.D. to understand these goddamn forms!

So, now I’ve re-done the form and discovered that I don’t need to have my thesis to FOGS until….

October 4!! And I had thought I was supposed to get it to them by August 30th. D’oh!

So this is good. It gives me some breathing room. But it could also be very bad, as I, like all grad students, work to deadlines. I wonder if I can convince myself that I still need to get it done by the end of the month…

{August 6, 2005}   The many facets of SOX

So, I’m trying to find out what SOX is an abbreviation for as I’m working through my lit review chapter, so I do a Google search for “SOX-9” (the particular transcription factor that I’m discussng) and I’ve learned a few things. (1) Apparently people who work on SOX-9 don’t feel the need to ever write out what SOX stands for… I’ve found this with a lot of the growth factors/transcription factors that I’ve been writing about, (2) the White Sox and the Red Sox have scored 9 runs in many of their games, and (3) I could have bought my Ph.D. dissertation off the internet instead of writing one myself. I’m not making this up!

Just go to Essay Town and you’ll find the following:

“Do you need a BRAND NEW, ONE-OF-A-KIND dissertation, thesis, research paper, essay, book report, or term paper on SOX9 Genes? If so, our SOX9 Genes experts can research and write a new, original, unique document–JUST FOR YOU–on the particular SOX9 Genes topic of your choice… Whether you are a high school senior in need of a 1-page, college admission essay, or a Ph.D. candidate in need of a 300-page dissertation, we have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to complete your order. ”

Just for a lark, I asked for an estimate on how much a dissertation would cost and this is what the site gave me:

Now don’t I feel like a schmuck wasting 5 years in the prime of my life actually doing my own work when for less than $5000 I could have had a dissertation in a week!

{August 1, 2005}   Bad Grad Student

Dave has friends visiting from out of town and I’ve been goofing off instead of writing my thesis. Bad grad student, bad grad student! On the plus side, I’ve been up to Lynn Canyon, over to Nanaimo & Victoria on Vancouver Island, watched Fantastic Four at the Silver City in Metrotown, where I also bought a cool new pair of shoes. On the negative side, I’m even less likely to get my thesis done for the end of August, which was initially my plan. Part of this was fueled by (a) the email I got from Grad Studies that tipped me off that the “deadline” of the end of August was really a soft deadline and basically I just needed to give them 4 weeks notice before I hand it in, (b) the fact that my supervisor went away on holiday (which she did tell me she was going to do a while ago, but I forgot) and won’t be back (and thus, can’t read the intro & discussion chapters) until August 5, and I really would need to give my completed thesis to one of my committee members by about Aug 5 so she could read it before she goes on her vacation, and (c) my own inate abiltiy to procrastinate (which forces me to go to the island, or, I dunno, writing this blog entry, instead of working on my thesis). But I’m going to go work on it, right now… honest!

et cetera