Besides not blogging here, what have I been up to lately?
--1--Well, my daughter tuned 1 late last month, so there was a birthday party. It was largely a family affair, which is still large enough a gathering that it was difficult to get much more than a perfunctory "hello" to each relative. I had a nice conversation with my brother and his wife, though, and I floated the idea of a camping/fishing trip sometime in the summer. Hopefully that will happen.
Actually, February will likely always be a busy month for family: Valentine's day is followed by one niece's birthday, then a nephew's, then my wife's and mother-in-law's (same day), and then my daughter's. These last three are on consecutive days.
--2--Speaking of Valentine's day, my wife and daughter got me a nice (though used) jogging stroller (sorry, no pictures today). I immediately bought a little pack to attach to the handle to carry the foot-pump for the tires(one was really flat), my water bottle, my wallet and keys, and my sidearm. I wonder if this counts as carrying a gun in a vehicle, or whether it only counts as carrying concealed. Anyway, since my last laser week ended I've been back to jogging again. I think I made about 4 miles today (I don't have one of those fancy smart-phone apps to tell for sure, so I estimate based on Google Maps). Jogging with a stroller presents a new kind of challenge to jogging solo, I will say that: on the one hand, there is the temptation to lean on it a little bit (at least on the level patches), but on the other hand I'm having to push it, at times pull it (going down hills), and stabilize it (our sidewalks and running trails aren't the smoothest things).
--3--Actually, taking the daughter out for jogs serves three purposes:
- I get some exercise
- She gets to go for a fun ride outside
- My wife gets peace and quiet for however long I'm out.
--4--Speaking of laser weeks, mine come around for 8 consecutive days every 28 days. My typical schedule during these is appalling. I usually start strong and make it in to work by 9 or 9:30, then work through until 11:30 or midnight. His puts me hoe at around 1 am. Towards the end of the week, as data collection is (ostensibly)happening, I'm coming in at 10 or 10:30 an then working until 3 AM or later. My last week culminated with my going in at 10:30 Friday morning, working through until midnight, sleeping a few hours on a couch in our conference room, and then working through until 4 PM Saturday.
Depressingly, a lot of these lase runs are relatively fruitless. The last one probably falls into that category, though the one before was a bit more successful. I do not think I will miss this schedule. There may be some doctors and lawyers who work longer hours (at least early on in their career), but both are typically paid about an order of magnitude more money for their troubles.
--5--Suffice it to say that there is not much free time left in my schedule after that. Somehow I am supposed to find time for writing my thesis in there. I have about 130 pages, a lot of which is text an equations. I expect that there will be at least 50 more pages before t's anything like finished. My goal coming into this semester was to graduate in May, but it's looking like I won't be finished writing my thesis by then. I have until August.
--6--I still don't have a job lined out for afterwards, and suffer from the additional problem of not really knowing what I want to do. Id like to teach, and I'm good at it, but I also need to be able to support my family. Honestly, the main thing I dislike about what I'm doing right now is the constant level of high stress coupled with the lack of work-life balance. Let me run an experiment on a 9/80 schedule, and I will be a lot happier with my job. Throw in some understanding for the fact that experiments don't always work the first, second, or even fifth time you do them (especially not when you are using unstable equipment and relatively exotic technology), and you've got yourself a winner. Not sure where to find something like that, especially given that I would like to live in or near Texas to be close to that half of my family, or possibly the pacific Northwest to be close to the other side of the family.
Finally, I'm trying to learn a few more computer skills. This is frankly my biggest gap in my job-related skills: I have an on-again, off-again relationship with MatLab, can use Labview (though installing through the university is a pain), and am trying to learn Python. I may also need to bone up a bit on Zemax, and then I may consider C (useful for some of these other languages) or Java (especially if I can land a teaching position somewhere).
While I'm on the subject of programming languages in general an Python in particular, I've noticed that "strings" manipulation is something that most online tutorials tend to teach fairly early on. Not wanting to be a serious programmer, I wonder at times why so much emphasis is placed on this from the get-go. I did, however, have an idea for a practical (joke) application of it: it seems to me that this would be a very efficient way of communicating in cipher (or better yet, outright code, if you'l pardon the pun). The NSA would not be pleased: perhaps this is a good reason to learn how to do it. Then I could send privately encoded emails to give some snoop a little something to think about.
Seven Quick Takes Friday is hosted by Mrs Jennifer Fulwiler at her Conversion Diary blog.