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Archive for the ‘Rambling’ Category

Mentally Torn

I have a serious fountain pen habit, and I found a community of like-minded maniacs about a year ago (online; the FountainPenNetwork, where there are lots of people who are more into pens than I am, and who have quite a bit more money to spend).  I have picked up a couple of pens off their selling forum, which is a great way, if you keep an eye out, to get nice pens for much-better-than-retail prices.  Picked up a Parker 21 Super (1965 or so, behaves like a Parker 51) and, just last week, a Pelikan M2oo.

At the moment, and the reason why I am mentally torn, I have a line on a M1000, XF-XXF (modified XF nib)… Pelikan’s top of the line pen, with about $100 of nib modification… for about half of what the pair should go for at retail.  The thing is, an M1000 is such an epic pen that I do not think I would ever take it out of the house, much less use it as a tool that fine deserves to be used – I am not a collector of pens; I buy pens I intend to use.  So, on one hand, the M1000 would be a great pen to get, especially at the price it is available to me – on the other hand, I would use it very little, and the large amount of money involved, even as discounted as it is, can be put to a multiplicity of other uses, especially once I reach Berkeley.

So, a part of me would love to purchase it – but my semi-parsimonious nature is saying no.

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Making Plans

So, today started with the building where the lab is smelling of wood smoke… and the FD evacuating the building, and finding a small fire on the roof courtesy, one assumes, of the roofers who are putting a much-needed new roof on the building.  While this was going on, my phone went off – it was the owner of the management company who deals with the building where my apartment in Berkeley is – who said he had found the check, and described his partner as an idiot.  So, that is sorted.

Given that the apartment is locked in, I booked my flight (not for free in the end, but I will live – $285 to get the cat and me out there on Southwest) and my moving container ($1505, much less than the website had quoted me – which was $2200).  So, with everything else, it should be more than doable.  This is good.

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So, after traveling through time at one second per second for the last year, I am now twenty four years of age – I had a quiet but enjoyable birthday – had dinner and much wine with friends at a wine bar here in Nashville.  Much joviality was had by all.

Irritations include the USPS losing track of my deposit for my apartment in Berkeley… they claim that they will call me tomorrow with news as to where they delivered the priority mail envelope, but I am distinctly unamused.

And now, with a decent amount of wine on board, with work in the morning and a cat who is happy to see me, I am off to bed.

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One of the great advantages to being in the field that I am in is that primary investigators (PIs) like to send their research assistants, graduate students and postdocs to conferences off of grant money.  The big conference for my end of things takes place in the second week of May, in Florida – which means that we get a vacation, of sorts, paid for off of grant money… hear about good science, look at good science, have fun with friends you may see once a year… and then get back to the lab slightly tanned, hungover and sleep deprived (at least if you are under 40).  Said conference was a couple of weeks ago, and it has been a busy time for the Wombat since.

For reference, my job usually entails supervising two scans a week – this eats my Fridays, and subsequent processing eats a good chunk of Monday, but it is so routine that I barely notice.  The past couple weeks have seen the lab scanning like it was going out of style – and the upcoming week promises five scans, one of which may well involve shoving the Wombat in a very large magnet.  Fortunately, I spent my non-scanning time since getting back clubbing as many alligators over the head with a stick as I could (translation: working on code for other projects, writing documentation, training new lab members and dealing with other things as they came up), so the impending wave of scanning should be survivable.  Everything is complicated by Fearless Leader being out of town for a while, and the Wombat going out of town in a bit over a week, but everything should be survivable – just busy when the Wombat and the Leader overlap in the lab (there is lots to hammer out before the first week of June).

On my end, I am going out to Berkeley to stalk the feral apartment in the first week of June, so there is quite a bit that I need to hammer into the ground before then.  Again, this ought to be doable, but the prospect of finding a place to rent in Berkeley in a 48 hour window is somewhat daunting.  Craigslist and Housingmaps (a google maps / craigslist.org/apa mashup are my friends right now).  Expensive housing market, but again, doable.

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And more information comes in:

Datum the First: I will be hunting for rental housing in Berkeley in late May / early June, looking for a August 1 start, if at all possible.  Should be doable, but will be a whirlwind trip, as is my wont.  Probably flying into Oakland, rather than SFO…

Datum the Second: I will be appointed as a GSI at Berkeley.  For those of you who do not speak UCB acronyms yet, this means I will be a TA.

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General Grumbling

For some context, I am a career researcher.  I have worked in a range of them from high school to the present day (and given that high school is lost in the mists of the early years of the previous decade, this gives you a sense of chronology) and am now a research assistant.  At the present time, I am waiting to hear back from graduate programs – applications went in back in December, and it is about that time.  Now, the waiting and the stress now is not as bad as the two months of brain-munching torment that was studying for the GRE, but I will be much, much happier once I know where I will be in six months [yes; I will move sometime in August, which means right about six months from now. ack].  This week and next week are when most schools start talking to applicants – and I would really like to find out sooner rather than later.  At a minimum, I am looking at a 1000mi move, and at most, well over 2000mi – which is somewhat complicated by my feline overlord, who will come with me on said moving roadtrip.

Now, you would be excused for asking why I am not applying to the department where I currently work – the major reason is that I am distinctly not fond of the city that I currently live in.  Transplanting cranky northerners to southern cities that do not seem to have been designed for humans to live in is a good way to make said northerners particularly grumpy.  More recently, said southern city has conclusively proven that having anything fall from the sky constitutes an expression of divine disfavor (they cannot plow; they have no idea how to salt intelligently)… hell, when it rains, it takes twice as long to get anywhere because each and every one of them lose their fucking minds.  I have no desire to spend another five years of my life in a non-city that seems to go out of its way to make me unhappy (that is a much longer rant, suffice it to say that I am not the kind of twentysomething who actually likes this city).

I want a city I can walk in – and while I can walk to the lab, not being able to walk to a decent bookstore (no, a borders-in-a-mall does not count, you drooling homunculus – nor does the borg-owned university bookstore that sells overpriced promotional crap to undergrads with more money than brains) does not improve my general outlook on life.  I want a bookstore that does a decent trade in classics and history (this does not exist here), ideally with a large resident feline or two.  The cat is not critical, but a decent selection of interesting stuff is – and the closest we have here are a couple of sad examples.  We have one massive volume operation, which is great for bargains on recent texts and one canonical used bookstore that has a limited selection of the kind of things I want (and they generally want more than I want to spend).

In the realm of other things chewing on the edges of what passes for my sanity, Amazon has decided to fuck over a bunch of my favorite authors (although, as of this writing, the massed power of the internet and likely some voices of reason within the company itself have made them think better of it) – they delisted all of Macmillan’s books over a pricing spat for the Kindle Store.  As Scalzi so accurately put it “let me know when you are finished acting like twelve year olds.”  Grumble.  Can someone take the clue bat and apply it to their heads?  When you are the World’s Largest Bookstore, common sense dictates that you do not defecate on those who create the items you sell.  Twats.

And that is enough in the way of a disjointed rant for this evening.  Time to crawl back in bed with the cat.

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