Just when I thought I was getting back into the swing of regular updates. Let’s face it: my writing isn’t particularly interesting to begin with, so throw in some ridiculous scheduling, eighteen million meetings, and a few travel weekends to boot, and you have little more than me pounding endless “derp”s into my keyboard.
Let’s see if I can perform the delicate balancing act of imparting what I’ve been up to over the last few weeks, while maintaining a minimum threshold of “I actually care about this” in my readers.
A couple obligations have kept me busy in the work-related arena: an NIH-mandated “Ethics in Research” course, and a big push to get two papers out before this summer’s end. The ethics course is about as bad as you might think: twice a week (in the mornings, no less) 1-hour lectures with 1.5-hour breakout sessions immediately following. The breakout sessions aren’t terrible; we read over roughly 10 case studies, about half of which have some gray-area juicy tidbit that we can discuss thoughtfully. The lectures, on the other hand, are pretty awful. And the whole course can just about be summed up with: “Use common sense.”
Though, granted, “common sense” isn’t really all that common (what’s the opposite of common sense? a rare dollar!). I put this problem forward in the course critique: folks who take this course will either already understand that they need to tread carefully and won’t get anything useful out of this course, or they’ll just straight-up memorize everything and still screw up whenever a new situation comes along. And those two contingencies only cover those individuals who truly wish to be ethical.
Research itself has been grinding along quite nicely. I’m slated to publish on two topics this summer: our cilia and zebrafish work. One is long overdue, and the other has barely begun and we’re already getting some interesting results. This is in no small part because of the efforts of our summer minion / underling / undergraduate working with us. This guy is seriously amazing; he took maybe two weeks to get up to speed on the math and physics, and now he’s already pointing out where we made mistakes in our implementation of the theory. I’m kind of excited about this.
Summer racing season is in full swing. Seems like only yesterday I was bitching about my poor performance in the Pittsburgh Half, but two weeks off from running and lots of chewy chocolate chip cookies later, The Lady and I have already logged another pair of races in the form of a 5k and a 10k. And here’s the kicker: we created a Ragnar team, specifically one for the DC race! Our team name: Four Score and Seven Miles Ago. Here’s an unofficial team logo one of our teammates created:
We’re pretty freaking pumped about this race. We already have all 12 required teammates, and we may even have 2 dedicated van drivers (so we weary runners won’t have to switch off driving at odd hours of the night). One of our teammates has an in-depth write-up of the event, so feel free to peruse at your leisure.
As for the other races, the 5k was a teeny local race called the Mutt Strut, primarily a fundraiser for the local Animal Friends company. The race was a lot of fun (though most likely 0.12-0.15mi short), and aside from a slight mix-up in registration data–I was somehow listed as a female–The Lady, her friend Ellen, and I rounded out the top 3 finishers in our 20-29 age group!
Just this past weekend, The Lady and I embarked on the Man Up 5k/10k, which benefits prostate cancer research. This was where my lack of formal training showed: instead of my pre-game strategy of taking the first mile slow (~7:15) followed by 3 miles at ideal pace (~7:00) followed by 2.2 at sub-7, it turned out to be: first 2 miles too fast, next 4 miles a rough slog to the finish line.
And yet I somehow managed a PR, according to the official results. Don’t pay any attention to the math! Though the race was much bigger than we had anticipated, and even though we both had excellent times, we were nowhere near the tops of our age groups. Even so, it was a lot of fun.
Finally, the Elite Runners tradition of summer Hump Day runs have started once more: weekly Wednesday 5k/5mi runs through the most brutal and technical (rough, windy, narrow, humid, etc) trails you can possibly imagine. The first one involved some getting lost and retracing steps, but I did a lot better than last year’s 27+ minute 5k.
Other upcoming races of note:
- 9/1: Zombie 5k obstacle course
- 9/15: Air Force Half Marathon
- 9/21-9/22: Ragnar DC!
- 9/30: Possibly the Pittsburgh Great Race 10k
- November: Philadelphia Marathon (our first full!)
Yes, September will be a monster month. Somebody remind me why I punish myself this way?
And now we arrive at the thing that has truly been sucking away my will to live over the last month: as of June 1, the lease I’ve held on my one and only apartment I’ve ever had in Pittsburgh expired, and a new one (about a block and a half away!) began. It’s an even bigger place than my first apartment, and I have a roommate now, but the overall cost is going to be about $200 total cheaper on a monthly basis, which is awesome.
(no, the roommate is not The Lady; we’re one of those super-old-fashioned couples who want to wait until the knot is tied before we cohabitate)
The process of moving has been…annoying. Even though the new place is 1.5 blocks from the old place, there’s no shortcut around the full-fledged packing/unpacking process, the need for new furniture, dealing with how to get rid of old furniture, and fitting everything into new surroundings when your previous setup 4 years in the making was down to a science.
It’s remarkable how stressful life can be when you have research deadlines, BS summer course deadlines, and travel arrangements to honor when you don’t know where anything is.
I’ve made a lot of progress–the living area is now completely set up, and my bedroom is about 75% finished–but I still need to finish assembling my new dresser (I’ve accumulated quite a few running clothes!…) and generally getting my room organized, as up until now it has served as my Official Disaster Zone Whilst Moving In area.
Yes, I used the word “whilst”.
Rrrr-Conclusions (three R’s is good enough)
There’s a lot of running, travel, and research on the horizon, but the big thesis here is that none of it will involve an ethics course that struggles just to make a point, or the endless annals of moving into a new apartment. Two soul-sucking and mind-numbing tasks that won’t need to be given a second’s thought after this week.
Oh right, I still have two papers to publish.