My schedule is not quite free enough to get back to posting regularly but this past month warranted a post all of its own.
Teaching: There are only two more weeks left in this 10 week quarter. Teaching 1 hour per day, four days a week to 90+ students is hard. It’s the first time I’ve taught this course. I was overly optimistic about how much material could be covered in a 10 week sophomore level class. On average it takes me 3-4 hours to prepare each 1 hour lecture. It’s also a 20-30 minute drive from my laboratory to the classroom. I generally meet with 3 or4 students per week for up to an hour each. After 8 weeks of me evaluating them, next week they get to evaluate me. I am tired. On the plus side, my public speaking phobia has just about disappeared.
Body for Life: I was completely over-optimistic about my schedule when I signed up for the BFL cruise challenge. I am the same as when I started. Well, perhaps my arms are even scrawnier but overall my clothes fit and the scale has not moved. I suppose this is a success overall given my general lack of activity and my lack of focus on fitness. I have been sneaking in this fun and FAST workout I found on Skwigg’s blog about 4 times a week. Definitely not optimal. Teaching ends March 15, new fitness program to start after I grade all of the final exams and get final grades posted.
Science: A colleague in Philadelphia invited several of us to meet with her to discuss a possible collaborative effort. We all have projects trying to identify genetic differences that can prevent or delay the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in transgenic mice. It was terrific to talk with others and to plan on working together to make the work go more quickly and efficiently. This colleague also runs a non-profit in support of ALS which sponsored all of us to travel to this meeting. One of the best things about this short weekend trip was that I was able to pick up some light fiction in the airport with which to divert myself. Dirty Blonde helped to pass the time.
I have written before about how difficult is has become to win federal grants for research these days. For many scientists the outlook is distinctly bleak. I’ve had a guest scientist in my laboratory for the last 5 years or so. He’s an attending neurologist at a local hospital who has been working nights, weekends and holidays (for free) in my laboratory to try to create enough preliminary data to submit a successful proposal. This month he got the scores and reviews of his latest proposal. His grant is in the top 3.5% of all grants. I am so incredibly delighted for him that his efforts have FINALLY paid off. Even with the funding line hovering between 5 and 7% this grant should win.
Miscellaneous: I was in my very first car accident. Note: I am not counting the time that I backed my uncle’s truck into a brick building and dented his bumper. This was much more exciting. I was driving home from the airport at about 9PM at about 60 mph when another car hit my car. The impact caused my car to do a 180 on the highway. The next thing I knew my car was sliding down the cement barrier (I’m glad it was there) going backwards, several lanes over from where I started. The car which hit me drove off. Luckily, only my car was damaged. Furthermore, no other vehicles were involved. Several very nice people who witnessed this stayed around to tell the police what had happened since I really did not “see it.” Unfortunately no one got make, model or license plate number of the car which hit me. A veritable sea of police, ambulances and fire trucks came within 3-4 minutes of my 911 call all to ensure that I was indeed OK. Thank you Aurora.
Interestingly, my life did not flash before my eyes. Indeed, I think I shut my eyes on impact. My first instinct was to phone home if only I could remember how to use the cell phone. I felt more like I envision the computer does after a blue screen of death hard reboot. Name? Phone number? Place of employment? Please wait while my system reboots.
This experience led to my very first interaction (beyond me sending them checks) with my insurance company. While I don’t have my car back yet, so far, this experience has been outstanding. Progressive has a relatively novel concierge service. You have the vehicle towed (or if drivable driven) to their service center. They have an Enterprise rental service on-site which bills Progressive directly for the rental. They also line up all of the damage appraisals, find the repair shops, etc. For example, I have no idea whether my suspension repair will be taken care of by the same people sanding and repainting everything. When the car is back in perfect condition you pick it up, return the rental and pay your deductible at that time. The work performed is apparently guaranteed for as long as you own the vehicle.
My rental has an automatic transmission. I’ve never owned a car with anything but standard. Oh how I love the automatic during rush hour.
My husband, who recently finished law school, took the Colorado Bar Exam on February 27 and 28. Two days 8 to 5. One day is all essay and the other is multiple choice. Apparently there were many fewer people on the second day. I’m crossing my fingers. He passed the patent bar exam back in the fall so I am optimistic about his success here. Now he just needs to find a job opportunity he loves.
My friend Martha hosted a terrific event called “Mountain Mardi Gras” which this year had a Harry Potter theme. You can see pictures of some of the terrific costumes here and here. My husband and I dressed as muggles (i.e. no magical costumes). It was a fun event for a great cause (saving lives and limbs…literally).
And finally, last night (OK we’re into March now), I attended an event here (click to make bigger). I grabbed this image off of Google maps or Zillow or something similar. Even in winter the fountain and the long elaborate water fall were functioning. I have never before been in such a breath-taking home.