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Exactly what it sounds like.  It is 1am, and I cannot sleep.  This displeases me.

The cat, strange animal that he is, popped on to the desk as soon as he heard the computer come out of sleep.  He can sleep 20 hours a day and spend the other four making cute noises at me (or playing with string, or killing fake mousies)… but I cannot.  I get to wrangle magnets and make my friends bored for the greater glory of science and the honor of the lab – at least, that’s what I tell myself.

Might be time to decamp back to bed, this time with said feline and see if fifteen pounds of furball work as a sleep aid – it often helps to have him somewhere on the bed, for reasons that are unknown to me.

If I had to bet, the insomnia is a consequence of coming home after a lovely (gack, cough, spit, splutter, gag) walk home from the lab in ~90º heat to find that I had no water.  Water has been a bit of an issue as of late – the Cumberland river (among others; but in Nashville the Cumberland is the one that matters) flooded rather drastically at the beginning of the month, taking out one of our two water treatment plants – so the city has been on varying forms of water restriction since then.  The fact that we get our tapwater from said river probably explains why the tapwater in this town tastes like a lovely mixture of sulfur and chlorine, which means that I filter it for any internal uses.  Yet another example of the fine urban planning Nashville is known for (feh – urban planning my arse, try intermittently-maintained underspecced stupidity incapable of supporting current demand – and I am not just talking about water – this entire city is not designed well at all [cough, green hills, cough]).  I have water now, although flushing the lines was an interesting (rather yellow-brown) experience.  Glad I did that tonight; seeing that in the morning would have constituted a rather nastier wakeup call than I usually prefer (I do use metal as a wakeup via the computer on occasion, but that is when I really need to be up at some utterly unholy hour).

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Somehow, spending Saturday morning helping a friend move has fucked up my whole mental clock – I think it is Saturday (rather than Sunday), which promises all sorts of fun next week.  Monday should be painless enough; about half the lab is out of town at an NSF Meeting, but I get a nice 10am scan at one of the 3T magnets on Tuesday for my pains (control experiment for a coworker’s paper that has been supposed to get published Real Soon Now as long as I have been here).  Well, two more subjects in the control, and we can check that one off, I hope.

In terms of the Graduate School Quest, life is both settled and not – I know where I am going (in fact, four months from now, I will have moved) and I know who I am working with (this is good; I like my new PI and the lab I will be joining).  As a recap, I applied to six graduate programs, and was, perhaps, a bit optimistic about my chances (I applied to Harvard, Yale, Rochester, UC Berkeley, Stanford and UW).  I got two interviews (UC Berkeley and Rochester) and was offered admission by UC Berkeley (everyone else was very polite, but said no).  Ergo, I am headed to UC Berkeley in August (which is fine by me – they have a great department [I am entering their PhD program in Psychology to continue my work in vision research; Berkeley also has a Vision Science group in Optometry, which has a second horde of good people] and I loved Berkeley when I was out there on interviews in February).  So, come the second week of August, I will be moving out to Berkeley, CA – where I will be for five years as a graduate student.

I am looking forward to it – a real city – a food-centric city – a pedestrian-friendly city – a city with actual public transportation where I do not need to own a car (this is NOT an option here in Nashville)… except for the truly hellacious rent.  The Bay Area is expensive all around – but Berkeley is notable for being worse than average.  A good analogy is Cambridge, MA – around MIT and Harvard.  So, now that I am in to graduate school, I am pondering housing out in Berkeley.  This is complicated by the Feline Overlord and my own desire to not have a roommate if I can help it (note: I had two roommates in university; my freshman year roommate was fond of sleeping through his classes, consuming a range of depressants with his fraternity brothers and generally being a lout – my sophomore year roommate was [and still is] one of my closest friends from university).  So, at present, my parents and I are working on a plan of attack, given that we do not have all that much time to work with.  If everything works out, I should know what I am doing for housing by late may or early june (I hope).

In line with this, my current lab has hired the New Me (aka the next Research Assistant) – interviewed her in early March, made an offer on the spot, she accepted about two weeks later.  This is a good thing, as everyone in the lab liked her, she has some background, is interested in our research and I believe that I will be leaving my job in very good hands.  The last bit was a major search criterion for me – could I see myself training the applicant and handing off my job as the lab’s RA to them in good conscience.  She will be showing up in Nashville in early June, which means I have six weeks or so to hammer everything together in the way of training materials and to codify what I think she needs to know.  Given that I have been writing documentation as I go (for the last couple of years), this is rather easier than it might be otherwise – but the job encompasses a rather wide range of skills and tasks, and I just know I am leaving something out.  We also have a newly-minted PhD who will be shifting labs, who I will train with an early revision of the materials next month, so that should help me hammer out a version that I like.  For that matter, we have two (maybe three) postdocs coming in to the lab beginning around midsummer, so life is going to be interesting for a while (right up until I leave in early August).

That may just do it for the moment.

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Snarky Wombats is the blog of a larval-stage academic with side interests in cooking, baking, photography, coffee and dead trees.

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