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Archive for the ‘school’ Category

In case I have readers who I don’t know in real life and are not on twitter, I have news: I got into the physiology grad program that I wanted.

Unlike some of the braver bloggers I read, I didn’t feel up to blogging about the application process because I was convinced I would get rejected from everywhere. Some of my reasons were irrational and some were rational (I was just making the grade cut-offs for the programs I applied to), but apparently none were justified. I’m still surprised that someone (aside from me) think that I have what it takes to succeed in grad school.

So that leaves me with a week of school, one exam, and a summer before I begin my MSc and i’ve got some things on my mind. I hope you don’t mind me unloading in the form of a list.

  1. I’ve run out of motivation for school work despite still having my senior thesis, two essays for a social science course, a review for my seminar course, and an exam. Seriously how the fuck am I supposed to get myself to do this crap?
  2. I’ve been having a minor argument with a friend who is also heading for grad school over the way I went about choosing a potential lab. He seems to think that I should have focused more on whether they use the shiny-est, newest, most awesomely over-hyped techniques rather than finding a lab that works on stuff that I’m interested in. Dude has been going on about which schools have X-equipment and which ones have Y-equipment and why he totally wants to go somewhere with Y available. I am so fucking tired of hearing about this. He also seemed surprised at how much emphasis* I put of the social environment of a potential lab. Can’t wait to see that come back to bite him in the ass.
  3. I need to figure out what I’m doing this summer. I have three options:
    • I can start working in my future supervisor’s lab over the summer. Pro: I get a head start on my project. Con: I lose my last real summer vacation.
    • I can try and find another lab to work for over the summer. Pro: Learn stuff that I might not get a chance to later. Con: I lose my last real summer vacation. Also, Lab Tech in current lab has been hinting that she wants me to stay for the summer and I’m not sure staying** will be good for my mental health.
    • Find biology-unrelated job that pays well. Pro: I will actually feel like I had a summer vacation. Con: No science. Plus, the “pays well” part is probably a pipe-dream.


* That is, more than zero.

** More on this later.

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Yes, even in a 4th year class on developmental biology.

I decided to take a seminar class on dev-bio for the following reasons: the topic is pretty damn interesting, I really liked my dev-bio and evo-devo classes last year, and the profs teaching the course are the most engaging instructors I have had at university. What I had failed to take into account was that class content would be highly determined by the students enrolled and that some student would have managed to get through three years of a biology degree believing in Intelligent Design. Apparently, this was a huge oversight.

It didn’t help that the person presenting decided to spring this on us as a wild change of topic. He started off doing a pretty good overview of some aspects of sex determination in mammals and how one model of this was creating. After about an hour of this he finished and put up a slide about how the stuff we learn in class and in the labs should effect the way we view the world. My immediate thought was: “Awesome, we’re going to talk about sex/gender/intersex people/etc!” Oh, how wrong I was. The segue wasn’t for that; it was for a slide with the words intelligent design plastered all over.

*Sigh* What followed that was an entirely uncomfortable 45 minutes.

He started off with an exercise involving us pretending we knew nothing about several objects and trying to intuitively place them in either designed, natural, probably designed. I, of course, decided to object because if I don’t know anything about these object I can make no judgement about their origins. It’s also pretty damn hard to pretend you know nothing about a lion or a pyramid. As you can guess, this was all about making us go “complexity = design” because obviously our “cognitive biases = reality”.

This was all to prime us for the magic that is — wait for it — Kirk fucking Durston. Was it rude to giggle at that point?

My problem right now is that I need to give this guy a mark (wee! for peer marking), but I have nod idea how to go about that. Do I give him a good mark because he did a good job presenting the science-y bits? Do I give him a terrible mark because he used the science-y bits to legitimize wasting my time on inane, drivel? Is it right to give him a zero because, while he can parrot biology he seems to have not learned the core of the subject?

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Last week, I got to run through the immunocytochemistry protocol I’ll be using from dissecting out the tissue to taking pretty fluorescent pictures and, as can be expected of most first attempts, I failed completely (OK, maybe not completely as I did get one cell that looked like it could be usable data, but pretty damn close). It’s frustrating because I really wanted for things to go well so I could prove to that part of my brain that has no self-esteem that I’m not just wasting everyone’s time and money with my incompetence.

So, that week didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but tomorrow I’m back in the lab and it’s a new week. I have some idea over where I could have gone wrong so maybe my failures will be more minor.

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Today was the last day of the second week of school (UofT has decided to create massive confusion with a schedule that makes sense but is still so fucking stupid) and I think I may be settling in with this going to lectures business and 10 hour days. I miss being a lazy good-for-nothing.

General updates on life:

  • I spend more than the course recommended amount of time working in the lab on my fourth-year project. I’m currently in the lab honeymoon phase where I’m convinced my supervisor is awesome (even if she intimidates me), the research I’ll be doing is pretty cool, and the grad student teaching me is not a controlling asshat who thinks I’m an idiot. Now I just wait until everyone realizes that I’m an incompetent idiot.
  • I’ve had a quick intro to neuroscience in three of my classes which is almost all repeat of stuff I’ve already learned (in one class I’ve even gotten the same lecture I had two years ago by the same prof). At this point, I think I may be learning more about the various ways to give this lecture and the different things you can emphasize.
  • The only non-physiology course I’m taking this term is with the two awesomest professors I’ve had at UofT. I took a course run by them last year and it freaking blew my mind. Since I’m sure someone will make a wrong assumption on the subject, it’s a science course.
  • I’ve got a lot of events to help setup as club exec and circumstances keep conspiring to give us even more stuff to do. I’ll also, hopefully, be volunteering at the Centre for Women and Trans People. Yeah for non-class stuff to keep me busy!
  • The last two days have been crappy emotionally. Everything external to how I feel is pretty good, but my reactions to stuff are completely inadequate. Anytime I’m not mentally occupied I start feeling panic-y, like I’m about to screw something up.
  • If I could have any superpower, I’d want to be able to stop time while I nap/sleep…
…and on that note I should go to bed.

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Some of you might read the title and think, “What the balls is LostMarbles smoking?” Today is the start of a new year for me. I know the calender still says 2009 and will continue to say that for the next 4 months, but having spent the last 15+ years in in school I’ve been convinced that the year begins sometime in the first week of September. So in the grand tradition of setting up goals you’re unlikely to accomplish because it makes you believe that you are planning ahead, here are mine:

– Stop wasting so much money on meaningless trinkets. Yes they’re shiny and I’m a magpie pie, but I should try.
– Get into grad school
– Stop eating skeezy candy from the bulk store during exam periods
– Read more than 2 works of original fiction
– Finish building my RX-0 Unicorn Gundam before the anime is released.
– Learn some awesome things from my fourth-year project course
– Come up with awesome pie ideas that don’t end up looking like chocolate soup in a pie crust
– Keep on track with reading for my classes
– Kick ass at life…
– … so I can buy a pet unicorn. A gal can dream, right?

So for all of you who still think the year starts in September, what do you want to achieve and/or change about your life in the 2009/2010 year?

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Minor Venting

Dear Linguistics Prof,

I know you’re teaching a joint course with psychology and therefore you need to touch upon the biology involved in language, but please don’t repeat the lecture you gave this week EVER AGAIN. You were clearly clueless about neurobiology and your attempts to explain concepts you didn’t get had me cringing and rolling my eyes.

Love,
That neuroscience student making faces at the back of your class

P.S. The part on the biology of the vocal apparatus and phonology was pretty cool and well done. Videos of flapping vocal folds are awesome.

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Almost there

I have one more exam to go. Hopefully, by this time tomorrow I will be happy and VERY drunk. I’ll also try to forget that I’m taking a summer course which starts on Monday. *sigh*

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