November 29, 2006

On the Being of a Grad Student (Part 1)

Being a grad student is weird. Really, ones experience as a grad student is primarily affected by his or her perspective. That...and whether or not their advisor sucks. I'll elaborate.

Today I was remarking to a colleague that I quite enjoy the outlook most grad students have. Many of us come and go as we please. For example, I usually don't get in to work until 10 or 11 most days (though I try to balance it by staying until 6 or 7). On days (like today for me) that we are feeling sick...we go home and take a three hour nap. On days when work is actually needing to be done, we may suck it up and pull a 10 or 12 hour day. But we rarely - if ever - pull all-nighters any more. We leave that nonsense to undergrads who still think grades matter. Speaking of undergrads - we tend to loathe them, or at least disregard them. This cracks me up considering most of us were at one time undergraduates. How quickly we forget.

Really, the primary challenge as a grad student is embracing this truth: this one problem I'm researching will take me 4 years to finish. That's as long as I spent as an undergrad doing hundreds and thousands of problems which I have already forgotten! With this in mind, it's easier to not feel guilty for slacking now and again. After all, if it's going to take 4 years anyway, what difference will it make if you take an afternoon off to have coffee and go to the gym.

Anyway, you can see that with the right perspective, grad school can be a sweet gig. I mean...I get paid to take one class and do "research". There's plenty of crap that we have to deal with (about which I'll be sure to complain more in the future) but we also have a more flexible life than those suckers with "jobs". One last thing I feel I should point out though was a point made to me by Tin Roof. When you consider both our stipend and tuition, we're actually being paid quite a lot. So hopefully in all our slacking, we'll still remember how blessed we are and be motivated to perform our responsibilities to the fullest of our potential.

I should get to bed. Somehow I agreed to ride with my advisor to Virginia Tech tomorrow for a conference. He's picking me up at 5:30 in the am. (Who knew 5:30 came twice a day?!)

November 28, 2006

Be The Groove

People I love doing what we love to do...

November 27, 2006

Whatever happened to Judy Winslow?

How is it that I would rather look up useless information on Wikipedia than do my research? After all, research is what I'm paid (albeit too little) to do. And completing my research is my only ticket out of this hell hole. And yet, when it comes down to it, I am much more interested in researching what is the longest pedestrian bridge in the world or the longest main street in the US. Or reading about how the girl who played Judy on Family Matters (you remember, the younger sister who was eventually swept under the rug without so much as a peep from Carl or Harriet) is from my hometown. And for that matter, she eventually became a porn star! Oh Wikipedia, you're so witty and interesting (alright, primarily interesting).

I had a great Thanksgiving and the extra tire around my waist to prove it. But I should get back to grading for Thermomechanics. I told my master I'd have them done for him by class tonight. Plus I have yet to plan the Bible study I'm supposed to be leading tonight. More about the holidays later.

November 26, 2006

One time, OK, see, one time (part 1)

One time, OK, see, one time Randy Beaman's mom had a dream that she ate a big marshmallow and it was really good, and she, and when she woke up her pillow was gone 'cause she ate it...

'K, bye.

November 21, 2006

That thing is lucky I'm not armed

I have a way with the copy machine in our department office. Unfortunately, it's a bad way. Every time I use the thing it paper jams on me and quotes from Office Space flow through my consciousness. Thankfully our dept. secretary usually comes to my rescue. I just spent a good 45 minutes copying the drum score for Ain't Misbehavin'. I'm filling in for 6 shows at LiveArts this December (by the by - based on what I heard last night, it's likely to be a good show - come see it). What kind of irritates me about the situation is that I'd asked the music director 5 times to make me a copy of the score and a CD of the soundtrack so I could spend some time with the music and be ready to perform. Of course, knowing the musical director as I do from a previous show (she's totally incompetent despite her pleasant, mellow, half-baked demeanor) I should have guessed she would leave me hanging. Ah well. It's done now.

In other news, my Musings have now received visitors from several other countries including: China, Brazil, Argentina, and Canada (I know, I know, Canada's not a real country). So that's fun. Also, I was pleased to discover this morning that the person tracked by sitemeter visiting my site daily was not in fact this weird stalker girl that I barely know (I had reasons for the assumption in identity - but they are boring and technical) but rather was my sister (who is weird but not a stalker).

Today I've got lots left to do. I didn't come in to work till noon (ah, grad school). I've got a meeting with some tech guy at 2, a hairs cut at 3, then I need to finish work, do laundry, get packed and run errands before leaving town at the buttocks-crack of dawn tomorrow morning. Unfortunately all of this meant Tin Roof and I had to pass on an invitation to spend the night at Sandals and Husband's house in Lynchburg (which I have yet to see). (Husband is the worship director at my church and Sandals is his wife. They are good people.) Ok, that's it, I've used entirely too many parenthesis today. I quit. (PS. the cubs suck.)

November 20, 2006

Flush with ideas

So I was trying to think of what to post about today. And nothing was jumping to mind. Then I saw this. An article about fancy new public toilets being put in Times Square by Charmin. Talk about unique product placement! And the best part is? Someone will clean the stall after each use. God bless America.

Speaking of So I find myself to be unable to make it 20 minutes without quoting some movie or television show. I can't help it though. Honestly I think it's a disease. There are some things that just stick in my mind. Music, lines from TV shows and movies, smells. And I am always feeling like an idiot because someone will say something that triggers a quote memory in my mind and I'll chuckle to myself. But then the person will want to know what I was laughing about and when I tell them, it becomes less funny since they usually haven't seen the bit - or at least don't remember it. (PS. Tin Roof, this post is not aimed at you - so don't feel bad or anything.) Anyway, it makes me feel horribly unoriginal and uncreative that I am so under the spell of the culture. It turns out I'm not funny at all. I'm just re-hashing other people's jokes. Sigh.

In other news, I will be traveling with Tin Roof (that's the girlfriend's new nickname by the way) to TN this week for Thanksgiving. I will still try to get a post or two out this week though.

In honor of my disease...uh...Spontaneous Quotation...itis, I offer the following...

Oh, Lisa, you and your stories. Bart is a vampire. Beer kills brain cells. Now let's go back to that... building... thingy... where our beds and TV... is.

November 17, 2006

Baseball is better than football

I love baseball. I a lot. I'd probably marry it if I could.

The first couple weeks I was dating my girlfriend, I was nervous the whole time that she was going to dump me because it was the playoffs and I spent all my free time watching the games. The one night we did go out instead of watching the game, I was checking the score on my phone the whole night.

Anyway - all that said, I wanted to share Thomas Boswell's amazing article from the Washington Post about Why Baseball Is So Much Better Than Football. It's a long list of reasons and incredibly brilliant. Just so you know - I'm not against football at all. I enjoy it. But it doesn't touch baseball. Here are a few reasons why (lifted from the article)...
  • The coin flip at the beginning of football games is idiotic. Home teams should always kick off and pick a goal to defend. In baseball, the visitor bats first (courtesy), while the host bats last (for drama). The football visitor should get the first chance to score, while the home team should have the dramatic advantage of receiving the second-half kickoff.
  • Baseball has no penalties at all. A home run is a home run. You cheer. In football, on a score, you look for flags. If there's one, who's it on? When can we cheer? Football acts can all be repealed. Baseball acts stand forever.
  • In baseball, fans catch foul balls. In football, they raise a net so you can't even catch an extra point.
  • The best ever in each sport - Babe Ruth and Jim Brown — each represents egocentric excess. But Ruth never threw a woman out a window.
  • Football is played best full of adrenaline and anger. Moderation seldom finds a place. Almost every act of baseball is a blending of effort and control; too much of either is fatal.

November 15, 2006


Well I don't know about you, but I've been pretty pleased with my first few blogs. A little long, I grant you. But I've been having fun. I've already gone international too. This week has seen visitors from both Spain and Sweden. Course...they probably landed by accident and won't return...but...still.

I was going to wait till tomorrow to blog again - but here it is, 8:30 at night and I'm at work. Yeesh. Ah well, I owe it I think. I've slacked a lot lately. Anyway, just wanted to remind those of you in the Charlottesville area to come to Old Cabell Hall tomorrow night at 8pm for the FREE Chamber Singers concert. It's going to be fantastic and I'm very excited to be singing. Here's the information. Hope to see some of you there!

Frylock: Look Meatwad, there are other kinds of music in the world. Here. How'd you like to get down with some real gangsters--from the 15th century?
Meatwad: Bach? Beethoven? Are they down with the Pee Pants?
Frylock: Well, they wore pantaloons back then, Meatwad.
Meatwad: Shoot, boy, you'd get shot wearing that in my hood.

November 13, 2006

On the Origin of Dr. Church

Keeping with the established tradition within the NU ring of blogs - I plan to avoid real names in my Musings. Our main assumption is that one of us may be famous one day. And we'd hate for there to be printed records of our absurd claims regarding...whatever. I mean, say in 25 years it's down to me and one other fellow to be named the first person to walk on Mars (not entirely impossible - I am after all an Aerospace Engineer). But then someone stumbles across, let's say, a debate about the Lord's hypothetical effectiveness as a wingman and does not see the humor in the debate but only blasphemy (also possible). They subsequently vote against me as a candidate to walk on Mars (kinda like what happened to Jodie Foster in Contact) and I am bummed and curse the day my identity was revealed in the blogodrome. Thus the nicknames used from here out are for your and my protection.

I have had many nicknames over the course of my life. Let's discuss some of them. Roughly chronologically...

Geronimo: My mom has called me this as long as I can remember. Not really sure why honestly. But to learn more about Geronimo, Wikipedia is where it's at.

Jared Lee from Tennessee: Ok, I know I've just broken from my rule of secret still don't know my last name. Anyway this was another nickname my mom called me. It works only on the level that it rhymes. I am not from Tennessee. I was born in Texas. But I am dating a girl from TN, so... that's a step in the right direction I guess.

Jar-head: This was primarily the work of my brother when we were younger. I used to hate it. I'm still not fond of it. Besides, I grew up in the 80s. So if anything - due to the flat-top hair cut I likely sported - I was more a box-head than a jar-head.

DrumMan15: My first IM screen name. Hard to believe it's been almost a decade since direct human interaction became unnecessary.

JayRod: (Also: J-Rod, J-Man, J-rizzo, J, or most recently J-bomb) These should be pretty self explanatory. Uninspired - perhaps (except J-bomb). Catchy and fun - definitely. JayRod has been my preferred spelling since its introduction via my second IM screen name JayRodNU.

Texas Girl: Ok, not many people actually call me this (thank God). But for the last three years I've been driving a blue Tercel named Tracy. She used to be my sister's car...thus the license plate: TXGRL85. I've taken plenty of slack for it - let me tell you. But I'm too lazy and poor to change it.

Sergio: The story behind Sergio is a fun one. I was in love with this Panamanian girl for about two years. It was one of those unfortunate, torturing situations (which I have found myself in a number of times) where we were very close friends the whole time. I pined away silently, she pretended not to know how I felt. Anyway. The first 6 months of our friendship she had a long-distance boyfriend called Alejandro (though his nickname was Baboo hehe). My friends decided there was no way I could compete with this guy with my stupid name. We had to come up with a more suave sounding one. Thus Sergio was born. Just so you're not left wondering - it didn't help any.

Dr. Church: Clearly this is one of my favorites. I was dubbed with this nickname my senior year at Northwestern by the members of Boomshaka. I actually wasn't even there when it happened so I don't entirely know how it was conceived. However I'm fairly certain it was a consequence of consistently being late to Sunday rehearsals due to my attending church. That, probably coupled with the fact that I was one of very few (only?) engineers in the performance group at the time. Alls I know is, it's a pretty great nickname and I'm keeping it.

Well, that's all I can think of for now. And this post is probably too long to have kept an audience. Peace out.

November 12, 2006

Drown cats and blind puppies

Tonight my girlfriend (who is pretty much amazing) took me to see Othello at the Blackfriars Playhouse. It was incredible. For those of you who don't know the playhouse is the world's only re-creation of Shakespeare's original indoor theatre. It was my first time visiting the theatre which is about a half-hour from Charlottesville. And lucky for us, the Shenandoah Shakespeare company knows their stuff.

From the get go I was impressed at how fast the language barrier was broken down. I've always found that when seeing live Shakespeare, there is a certain amount of time from the beginning of the play that the audience needs to adjust to what they're hearing. How a cast handles this transitional period can be very important to how well its audience understands the show in the long run. This might have been the most fluid I have ever seen this phenomenon handled. Then again, maybe I just know Othello too well.

But as the play progressed, a number of other thoughts occurred to me. First of all - that this cast was amazing. Truly it was solid all the way around...well... except for the Duke of Venice who seemed to me too eager to dictate the pace of the play himself, rather than letting the words do the work. But then again, there seems to be one in every cast. I got to wondering whether or not this fellow was indeed a bad actor or was just being upstaged by every other cast member and thus was only seeming sucky relative to his peers. Perhaps in a lesser cast he would shine. Unfortunately for him, given this small sample size, I must confess he was the weakest link.

Another aspect that was unlike any other Shakespeare experience I've had (let's not talk about the time I saw Midsummer whilst on shrooms...wait, does sarcasm read via blogs?) was the impact of the theatre itself on the performance. I saw a distinct and unique impact resulting from the architecture. The interaction of cast members with the audience was more direct and fun than ever before. Soliloquies and asides were made stronger and clearer than ever due to the unique seating and lighting of the Blackfriars. The most evident example of this was Emilia's lecture to husbands warning them that their wives were clever. The delivery made me feel as though Shakespeare was preaching to the men of his day. "Boys, beware how you treat your women! They're smarter than you think!"

All in all it was a beautiful evening.
Eat your heart out Lovers and Madmen.

PS. Cats really do suck (not that I condone drowning them). They always waltz around like they own the joint. They think they're better than they are. Rarely have I met a cat who shows genuine affection. And certainly I have not met one which displays the unconditional love and loyalty of a dog. Of course every couple with a cat claims I would love their cat. That their cat acts just like a dog. Bull. What would be the point of that anyway? Just get a dog already!

November 09, 2006

A toy in my cereal

This morning I opened up a new box of cereal. Some cinnamon cereal or another (I am a connoisseur of cinnamon foods and no cereal has yet come close to the ecstasy of Cinnamon Crispix - but we'll get to that another time) . And as I poured myself a bowl, out fell a toy. This was the first toy I'd gotten in a box of cereal since I was like 8. And I thought to myself...that's it - I'm starting a blog so I can share my excitement with others.

So here we are. Here I are, rather. Doing something I long swore I would not do - blogging. For a long time my take on blogging has been - why should I care what anyone else thinks about anything? And more to the point - why should anyone else care about what I think about anything? For that matter, do I even have any thoughts worthy of being contemplated by others? The answer... is no. But I've decided not to let that stop me. After all, I feel I've been missing out. I mean hell, all my theatre friends up in NYC even have blogs. And here I am an Aerospace Engineer - and I'm behind on the technology. I get to hear all about their drunken escapades. Whenever I wish I can find out what my cousin thinks of American politics. Or read more spiritual musings. Or laugh along at the struggles and absurdity of life as an English grad student. So why shouldn't all these people have to know what I'm up to? Well now I expect, nay, demand it.

So let's brainstorm. What on earth can I offer to the blogosphere (gross... my first blogger slang)? Well I suppose that's still up for debate - and I'm open to suggestions. This certainly will not be a political blog - though I can't say I won't offer an occasional comment on the subject. Neither will it be a collection of drunken tales involving midgets and public urination - though let's hope some entertaining stories come along. I do plan on chronicling every single thing I do throughout my day - from brushing my teeth in the morning, to watching Simpson's before bed. Meh, on second thought - that could get tedious. How bout this... I will tell you why I hate umbrellas, cats, and Canadians. I will explain why straws are inefficient. I will regale tales of old NU (when requested by my fellow graduates). I will mock the Cubs and sing praises of Albert Pujols. And generally... I will waste time at work.

Let the fun begin.