Boring filler post
Apologies for another boring post. First item: the weather suddenly turned nice up here. Highs in the 50's! Lows that don't go below freezing! The snow has almost entirely melted and turned everything into mud! I celebrated with a bike ride, and ended up with a layer of mud on my backpack, pants, and bike. I also managed to explode the glass out of my front window while trying to open it to enjoy the nice weather.
I'm not looking forward to doing taxes: I have to file in two countries, and at least a state (MA), if not a province as well. Taxes have always made me nervous--I know that I'm relatively smart, and not math phobic, but the logic behind the tax code is so non-intuitive that the whole process gives me cold sweats (i.e., "Does this answer make sense? I have no friggin' idea! I have no idea what they hell they want to know!").
To back up a step, I spent last weekend visiting Jofish in Ithaca, NY, while Perlick was in town as well. Perlick already wrote about the visit on his weblog, so I feel absolved of responsibility to do so.
It was great to have a long weekend away from Waterloo and see really good friends. But it made me painfully aware that my social circle up here is pretty much five people (my graduate group and the spouse of one of the grad students). Now don't get me wrong--they're all great people and fun to hang out with. Okay, well, one of them makes me want to slap him upside the head half the time, but at least four are great people and fun to hang out with.
As for how the term is going: classes have officially ended; my last remaining job is to get a final report in by April 21. But I need to expand on the 'I should be tooling' thread keeps popping up during the term when I post to my blog.
One thought that has been recurring during my visit to Cornell, and while here at UW, is that I'm not working nearly as hard as a 'real' grad student ought to be. I have a combination of general free-floating guilt, fear that I am not achieving enough to get out in a reasonable amount of time, guilt over choosing a lightweight schedule this term, and frustration about not pushing myself to learn. I fear that (1) the big turd from the sky is going to land on me, as punishment for slacking, and (2) I'm not getting as much out of the grad school experience as I ought to be--i.e., I'm not taking it as seriously as I should.
One problem is that I'm not a self-starting learner. For instance, I had a draft copy of my advisor's textbook for a few years while at my old job, and I barely cracked it open. However, I audited his "basics of building science" class this term, which pushed me to read the book; it was very worthwhile and rewarding--it helped glue together what I knew, and filled in some missing gaps
Instead of focusing on learning, I end up finding jobs around the lab that need doing and taking care of them, such as keeping continuing research going, building an organization system for the group's tools, or dismantling and disposing of old unused projects. Unfortunately for my academic career, I'm not working on the piles of academic literature that I should be pushing through. After all, I find it a lot more fun to hammer apart stucco than read, "Measurement of Ventilation and Drying of Vinyl Siding and Brick Clad Wall Assemblies." Unfortunately, I think that is another example of why I am ultimately better suited for the working world than school.