Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon
Mr. Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Thursday, January 8, 2015

This week in the life of yarnsalad

I started a post about August 2014, got distracted, closed my computer, came back two days later and all my work was lost, so I'll have to start over again. There were really a lot of photos, so I'm not surprised. Oh well, I have practice now at doing that particular post!

Classes for the winter semester start next week and I am looking forward to getting back into that rhythm, even though I know it is tiring and often gruelling. I find I have missed some of my classmates.

I'll be finishing up with one or two of the projects I have been working on, and will be starting one or two new ones. I haven't talked much about my work on the blog (and obviously not at all about the school), and that's partly because I don't know if I am allowed to talk about it. It's also that I don't know if how interesting it would be to my readers - I'm in such a narrow field that requires really a lot of background explanation as to what I do. So when I say I'm a researcher in Biomedical Informatics, what does that mean, exactly?

In a nutshell, it's the intersection of health care with information technology (or to keep it really simple, computers). I was at a lunch the other day with a bunch of people who have nothing to do with health care and I tried really hard not to use jargon in describing what I do but the truth is I don't know if there is a layman's term for Clinical Decision Support or Electronic Health Records. But I say I do observational research for ways to improve the system and people understand that. They understand the need for good design, and adapting design to the needs of the user, so I go with that.

In the next few months I will need to decide and write a proposal for what I want to do my dissertation project on. There have been a number of projects come my way and only a couple of things have really leapt out at me, but they aren't necessarily things that I can get faculty support or find funding for. I'm new to the American academic machine so a lot of my learning has to do with how to negotiate getting this degree. I'm sure that one of the things I have been working on will blossom into a side project that I can turn into a PhD. That's the plan.

It also means that by the end of March I need to choose my committee - that is a chair and at least three of the five people who will advise and guide me as I undertake this research project. I already have a solid idea of who I want, so I'm not too worried about that. These mentors can help me figure out which funding avenues to pursue as well.

Meanwhile, Dan and I have been working our way through our canned and dried preserved food from the 2014 growing season. I actually did a complete inventory of all the food in our house over the Christmas break. There were a few things I had forgotten we have, so I'm glad to know about them. There were a number of jars with no labels on them, so every time when I went to look for cumin or oregano in the pantry, I'd have to ask Dan because he remembered what the jar looked like. These jars all have labels on them now.

We will be getting together with garden nerd friends Emily and Alfred, friends made at Cannon Greens, to plan together what we will plant and share so that we aren't planting too much of something that we can't both use and not enough of others. One zucchini plant will suit four people just fine. Can't have enough basil. Which tomatoes, what will we use them for? Cucumbers for pickling? As a part of this, I am going through my cookbooks and books about preservation and planning what I want to make in the next growing season. I have lots of seeds now (I have an  inventory of that as well) so I certainly want to be strategic about what I grow. I had around 30 tomato plants last year and now that I know what kinds of tomatoes we actually like and will eat, we will make sure we plant more of those and none or less of the ones we didn't love so much. There is a seed swap coming up in a few weeks and I will be able to give away some of the ones I don't want.

I have resumed knitting in conjunction to listening to audiobooks. I don't have any photos to show for it just now but over the holiday I finished a pair of socks each for me and Dan and I have three more pairs on the needles.

We've had some more adventures with Mr. Cupcake so I will be sure to post those too, possibly as separate stories.

I'm writing this post from my office just now, which feels sort of weird but my chair here is much more comfortable and I actually get more work done, despite the frequent visitors "just stopping to say hi". I feel like I need to bring an array of snacks to offer my visitors, my office isn't big enough for a sofa, alas. I'm about to go home and think about what to make Dan for dinner. He works in Daybreak, an hour's train ride away, so he doesn't usually get home before 7:20 on week nights and thus the cooking has fallen to me. I vow to be more organized with planning meals. We have really a lot of food in our larder, after all! (If you have any ideas for what to do with dried tomatoes, please let me know!)

Tomorrow I have a meeting, then working on coding transcripts for a small project, then I will be attending a PhD defence in the afternoon before going to collect data at the hospital. I don't know what the weekend holds. House work, likely, and I will hopefully finish listening to Cutting for Stone by Abraham Vergese, recommended by the husband of a colleague. It's a lot like my favorite book Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje (which I read every November).

Now to post this and catch a bus home! 

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