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Regrouping

Yesterday, riding home from the lab, I thought back to how I often feel at the end of a long brevet, where one day stretches and bleeds into the next. Staying at the lab for two overnights feels similar, except without nearly the same level of physical exhaustion. I just hit a point where I stop caring about pretty much anything.

So it was good to go home, curl up and nap, and then do some non-academic activities for the evening, like making cornbread and roasting Brussels sprouts. By the way, annikusrex, I'm still using your cornbread trick, where you melt the butter in the baking dish and then pour the cornbread batter onto it. Yum.

I've been keeping and updating a sample size grid for the circadian project. Based on it, I've decided that I'll run one more double-day this Friday, and after that I'll take a break until January. Thankfully, I'll just run the 1 pm and 5 pm timepoints, so I won't need to get to the lab until 7 am Friday morning.

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Several days ago, I was reminded of the Bike Commute Haikus I used to write while commuting in Texas and Nebraska, and found that I wanted to write one for Berkeley:

Traffic light stop sign
Traffic light traffic light curb
Traffic light stop sign

Yesterday I discovered that this area responded by writing more haikus for me, along the bike path. Here's a photo from yesterday:
Bike commute haiku
The fine print says:
They are everywhere
Turkey world domination
All in Albany

This was near the section of the bike path where a flock of wild turkeys often hangs out.

Today's haiku:
Bike commute haiku 2

Fun science moments

-When a scientist you admire comes up to you at the end of a talk to talk excitedly about different perspectives on nutrient regulation

-When you discover that the random person hanging out late in the lab is shaving particles off of a humpback whale barnacle in order to quantify oxygen isotope ratios and figure out where the whale has migrated. And he's doing it because he will then do a similar procedure on a rare humpback whale barnacle fossil.

-Talking with grad students who are trying to figure out how to measure the respiration rates of small beetles and tiny jumping spiders

-Chatting with another grad student who wants to learn how certain butterflies manage to develop transparent "windows" in their wings

-Bumping into the student who is flying geckos in a vertical wind tunnel (large fan pointing up in the air - but with the air flow carefully standardized)

But really, the humpback whale barnacle story took the cake today. :^)

Crunch time

The next two days are going to be intense. I need to run 2 timepoints on each day, starting with a 9 am each day, which means I'm in the lab overnight until Tuesday. Also, our lab is giving a group presentation tomorrow for an in-house lunch seminar, and I have only just finished scrambling to put my portion together.

My rowing club had a mixer race and social today. I would tell you more about it but I like sleep more. I had a horrible 1x race (hit the shore and just generally sucked) and a very very very slow stand-up paddleboard race. Since I was the only woman to take out a 1x, however, I still won a prize.

At least I am past the halfway mark for the Holiday Challenge. I won't be getting any meters in over the next two days, so that should give dichroic a chance to pass me.

Good night.

Question

What are some helpful ways to show sympathy and support for friends/mentees who are going through a difficult time dealing with an alcoholic parent?

Inevitability

It's probably inevitable that on a morning where I make a mental note to remember my lunchbox, I'll then promptly forget it at the boathouse. I pulled it out and set it on a bench when digging around in my pannier for clothes. And of course it's a day where I'll be at the lab until 1 am. I was already going to have to scavenge for dinner. Sigh.

#firstworldproblems

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Hello erg, you old friend

On Sunday night, scrottie and I made plans to come up to Seattle via train for the week before December 25. Nailing down that trip made December seem way more concrete and short. Of course, time is always precious this time of year because of the Holiday Challenge.

I just went back to check, and found that indeed, this is my tenth year undertaking the Holiday Challenge. I'd forgotten this detail, but the very first year I went for it was in 2006, when I went to Australia to study social interactions in sweat bees. I only completed the 100k challenge that year because I only had access to an erg for a total of 10 days. After 5 days in a row of half-marathons, my body informed me on no uncertain terms that I needed to stop. I skipped 2007, but have been doing the 200km Challenge every year since then.

This year, I'm going to go back to using one of the erg marathon training plans created by Concept2, to hopefully keep things entertaining. So far, so good. I'm also alternating between erging at home and erging at the boathouse. If I'm going to be erging, at least I can do it with a good view and the camaraderie of my teammates.

Sometime soon, I should also sit down and more thoroughly review the regatta options for 2017. There's no shortage of races in this area, and I'm grateful because they help keep me motivated and moving.

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Projects

The trouble with being a DIY holiday gift-giver is that making things takes time, and I'm feeling really time-strapped these days. Regardless, scrottie and I made a big push to get stuff underway this past weekend, and it was satisfying to feel some sense of progress.

I'd like to be finished with the sewing machine table refinishing project already, but I've only managed to get the second of 3-5 coats of polycrylic on it so far.

I also finally managed to try out the bike bubble machine that J and K sent to me. It was gloriously whimsical for about a mile of riding, but then the constant bumps converted the bubble juice into foam and it stopped working.
Bike bubble machine

I'm glad I tested it out on a drizzly day, on a bike with fenders. That reminds me, though, that I need to fiddle with the Jolly Roger's front fender bracket some more. When I upgraded from 1.35" tires to 1.5" tires, the fender was too close, so I took it off. It's annoying to have water and mud flinging up in my face when I ride around in the rain.

Oh, and Old Faithful is reassembled and back in action. I decided it would be useful to have another spare bike kicking around.

I'm a quarter of the way through the Holiday Challenge, but slept in this morning instead of going to the boathouse to erg some more. S and I are heading to Seattle the week before Christmas, so I need to stay on top of those meters.

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Nonviolent Communication [book]

So, I finished reading Nonviolent Communication, as recommended by bluepapercup a while back.

I would recommend it. I suspect that different people will get different things from reading the book, but altogether I think the basic premises of the book hold true for me. The thing I'm focusing on for the moment is the concept of explicitly tuning in to other peoples' feelings and needs, as well as expressing my own feelings and needs. I think I've identified that this is a point where I often get impatient and struggle.

I am also thinking of the book as a component of my personal interest in pacifism. The Book of Forgiving fits in the same category.

I regret that I did not have a chance to have a more extensive conversation with my dad about a course he's currently taking, on "emotional intelligence." He says it is largely aimed at people working in business settings, but perhaps there are other things to be gleaned from it.

Up next, I'll read a book about sailing.

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The Used Computer Store

Late Wednesday afternoon, I hit a point where I just couldn't deal with the lab anymore, probably because the next thing on my agenda was another job application. So instead I walked down to Shattuck and visited the Used Computer Store. Just as I walked in the door, two employees were working their way through inventorying a box of computer mice. I pointed and said, "I'll take that one" to the white Microsoft mouse that one of the employees was holding. Thirteen dollars later and I have the same reliable USB mouse that I used all through grad school, sold with zero packaging and instant shipping.

There are a couple of other places in the vicinity that also appear to deal in used computers and parts. And I haven't visited Al Lasher's Electronics yet, either.
Let's see, where were we?

This week has been a whirlwind. For Thanksgiving, which I didn't photodocument at all, I spent the evenings assembling a Portobello Wellington and a passion fruit pie. FWIW if you find yourself in possession of some passion fruit juice, simply substitute it in place of the lime juice for a key lime pie recipe. That said, I'm inclined to agree with sytharin, who found the resulting pie too sweet. Perhaps next time I will increase the amount of juice, and withhold the powdered sugar from the graham cracker crust.

We wound up with a great complement of delicious things. sytharin caramelized brussels sprouts and some sweet potatoes she grew in the garden last year. She also made a green bean casserole and some jalapeno-cheddar biscuits. There was stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, onion pie, and vegetarian plus non-vegetarian gravy. The works. Everyone ate until they groaned.

Our parents came down from Seattle, so on Thursday I took them for a tour of the lab, and on Friday, sytharin showed them her workplace. Then we went to visit the UC Botanical Garden and had a wonderful time strolling around and checking out the collections. There are a LOT of plants packed into that space, which I suppose makes sense when you think about the mild climate and history of the place. I look forward to going back for another visit.

I did take a couple of photos in the garden.

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden
View of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz from the upper part of the garden (you may have to view the full-size image to see).

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden
From the cactus and succulent house. Their arrangement and informational signs were excellent because they included discussion of cactus poaching. I hadn't thought about it, but confiscated poached cacti wind up going to places like this Botanical Garden to live out their lives because they can't be rewilded for a whole host of reasons. The people working at the garden care for and propagate the plants that grow quickly enough to reproduce, but they also maintain some fascinating rare and endangered plants. The cactus and succulent house consists of an open section where you can walk among the plants, and a fenced-off section where you can peer in and observe both display plants and the rest of the plants grown there. They had a couple of those "living stone" plants that were in bloom, which were really cool to see.

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden
UC Berkeley Botanical Garden
Some California representatives - a coastal redwood and an amazing gnarly buckeye.

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden
We enjoyed watching the salamanders in the Japanese pond. Also, I LOVE maples, and the maples in the garden had fabulous colors.

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden
Upon spotting this aloe, we all whipped out our cameras.


Meanwhile, on the home front, sytharin's Sharry Baby orchid has begun to bloom:
On the verge of blooming
Three days ago...

Sharry baby blooms
Today. Its fragrance is just starting to develop.

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