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Progress, doldrums

I managed to file my federal taxes yesterday, and filled out the paperwork for the state taxes for Nebraska. For some reason I am receiving refunds for both federal and state income, and I don't entirely understand why, but maybe it's better not to question it?

However, the zipper foot that I ordered for the sewing machine appears to be of the wrong size. Two websites claimed that my machine was a "low shank" sewing machine. When I measured it, it seemed to me like it was right in-between the measurements for a low-shank (3/4") vs. high-shank (1.25") machine, at 1 inch. Not only was the low-shank foot the incorrect size, it was shipped via stuffing it in a bubble mailer, which apparently got crushed during some stage of transport, bending an adjustment bolt. So, back to the drawing board for finishing a pants zipper replacement project.

I did manage to bake a Spanish meringue cake, although it was finished too late to share it with people at the Chickens' Third Birthday Party on Saturday. So now I have half a cake in the freezer.

The doldrums: It's not clear whether anxiety over the leafcutter manuscript is making it hard to sleep, or whether my body's just decided to freak out over things just a little, for fun (spring!!), and then the thing that pops up when I wake up is the leafcutter manuscript. Regardless, I'm forming a plan of action that involves tracking down someone local who is willing to trade papers for a read-through. In particular there are a couple of informal gatherings of ecologists, and an ecologist is who I need. I need to shop this thing around a bit to make it more coherent and broadly appealing.

Today I spent a good portion of the day learning about the onset of diapause in insects and carryover effects of diapause, in preparation for helping a graduate student practice answering questions for her qualifying exam. Apparently, the format for exams at Berkeley is largely up to the student's committee. This student is studying to be a vertebrate endocrinologist, but my boss is on her committee, so she asked me to be a stand-in.

I wasn't a particularly good stand-in because I'm not as familiar with the context for that aspect of my boss's work, and in general I'm really not an evolutionary endocrinologist. I was a little horrified to learn just how little I know about endocrinology in general, in the process of observing the student respond to questions from her other committee members' stand-ins. I barely remember anything about the HPA axis, let alone the HPG axis, let alone half of the names of the hormones, because so many of those things have been discovered in the 13 years since I graduated and I'm not in that field anymore. On the other hand, hopefully it was helpful for her to get some general feedback on the direction of her thinking for the sake of developing her dissertation topic. Unsurprisingly, she's trying to cram too many different things in there. She'll learn.

Comments

( 7 remarks — Remark )
randomdreams
Apr. 5th, 2016 05:09 am (UTC)
Wow. I don't know anything about that sort of endocrinology at ALL.
rebeccmeister
Apr. 6th, 2016 08:11 pm (UTC)
So, I had a short discussion with one of the grad students in my lab today, who pointed out that some of these hormones were only discovered in the last 10 years or so. So I think I can be forgiven for not knowing about them because that's the timespan when I was learning about a bunch of other subjects instead.
randomdreams
Apr. 7th, 2016 12:42 am (UTC)
I'm glumly convinced that most all of my biochemistry knowledge is past its sell-by date.
rebeccmeister
Apr. 7th, 2016 05:34 pm (UTC)
I don't think so. The basics are still very much the same. There might be some re-tooling needed, especially in terms of learning current techniques, but much of the foundation concepts remain the same. If anything, people need to keep that foundation in mind when thinking about what they're doing nowadays. It *is* a little mind-blowing to realize how much information can be cheaply captured now.
randomdreams
Apr. 8th, 2016 01:28 am (UTC)
At work I'm capturing about a megabyte per second of high-quality information from a test system. I rapidly conclude that analysis of said information is now the weak link in the chain.
rebeccmeister
Apr. 11th, 2016 04:17 pm (UTC)
I suppose that, if you can figure out some systems for analyzing said data, you might be able to turn that into a nice, transferable skill.

But OTOH, although it has sounded like things have been stressful recently, it has also been sounding like you're getting to work on some cool and interesting things!
randomdreams
Apr. 12th, 2016 03:23 am (UTC)
They have been very interesting but also overwhelming. I built a system too complex for my own good.
( 7 remarks — Remark )

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