Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Upload complete

Well despite the great drama going on at my home over the car, I just completed my last requirement to officially graduate. I am registered to graduate, I have signed any and all random required forms and my thesis is electronically submitted to the grad study office.
I have to get a few paper copies bound, but I have a week or so for that...I am quite content that finally all is in and done and I don't have to think about it any more. There is the small matter of getting a few copies bound (for me, Dad, the Program and my co-supervisors) but I have a few weeks to get them printed and in to be bound so I'm not worried. My supervisor is covering the binding costs, so it won't be a big deal...just a matter of getting them in to the place.

Ah. official officially required things are complete.
Wish I could enjoy it more.Not the week of celebration I'd hoped for. If only I could cheer J up about the car. We have a borrowed vehicle to drive while we figure out what to do, but I don't want to figure it out. I was quite happy as we were thank you very much...grrr.
Talk about joykill. Seriously.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oh sod it

Good-Just prepped my thesis for electronic submission tonight. It is ready to finally submit as on file for permenant record tomorrow. The last technicality in grad school. :)

Sucktastic -our car, which has smelled slightly of gas lately, requires $2000 of repairs.

Now doing this to a 10 year old car isn't necessarily what I would like, but I don't know if right now it would be best to start another car loan, seeing as we just paid off the van and were hoping to make it into a camper space pod now. The car is only at 120000 Km and we've not had to do much to it, so it's been good to us. It's just a lot to think about. We had some money put aside for repairs, but not this's just a bit too much to just write off.

I feel very selfish in thinking this: All I wanted was one night to enjoy being done school. This kicks the joy right out of it...J is stressed and grumpy and I am just bummed.
Thankfully we can borrow a vehicle (purple minivan wooo styley) from J's parents so we have a few weeks to figure out what to do about the car. I just don't know if it's worth it to fix. How do you even decide that? J is really stressed about it and I am as well, but since he's the budget guru he has more info than I, and I admit I know little about cars, so I'm just trying not to ask too many annoying questions and look up info when needed to help. I have the knack of stating the obvious which really doesn't help.
I'd love our car, but I could love another one. Just don't know if $2000 is worth putting into a car or not...or if I'm up for another 2 years of car payments. Grr. I really want to kit out the van a bit.
And enjoy having no stress...just for a day or so.

*sigh* Such is life...

Monday, August 27, 2012


Well, I did it!

I have officially defended my thesis, given my speech and answered all of my questions at my defense. It was a really good experience I must say. The speech was a bit nerve wracking, but it went OK overall and the questions after were tough but fair and really interesting. They were the kind of questions that showed the reviewer was really interested in my work and wanted to really know my opinions on things. I got to really express my ideas and knowledge. I am very proud of how well it went. Having Dad and J at the speech was really fantastic.
My thesis is even being put forward for a distinction award - which is pretty rare for an MSc. I will have to wait until graduation to see if it is selected from the pool of recommended thesises for distinction. That would be truly outstanding...being nominated is enough for me.  I have no idea how/if/when there are overall grades given, but whatever that results are I am extremely happy because my thesis was accepted without external revision. That is a HUGE accomplishment! My supervisor told me it was the first one in the 30 MSc he's supervised that had been accepted that way.

Can I get a woohoo! *grin*

And so I came home after a celebratory lunch with my committee and had a mug of my own IPA brew in my ugly mug to celebrate. It turned out pretty tasty - it's the first bottle from the brew and it turned out alright if I do say so myself. Tonight the family is going out for celebratory chinese and I have the rest of the day off to relax and drink tasty brew from my ugly mug.

The ugly makes it taste better :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Permission to freak out sir

I defend my thesis tomorrow at 10AM.
I've read and studied and I don't feel ready because there is so much to know, but I'm going to keep reading and I've finished my talk and it's pretty damn good if I do say so myself. It has a few extra cool figures and diagrams and I do believe it will come in between 15 and 20 minutes, so it's just a matter of not freaking out and forgetting everything.
I have my clothes picked out - professional but comfortable skirt and sweater with my burgundy operetta Fluevog boots for luck.
I just have to make it through a final night of revision. I am in a panic. I met with my TO supervisor after she got in today to go over the 2 papers we are going to write from this project which helped a bit ,but it didn't make me feel any tonight I'm going to read my thesis over once more...and try and not eat everything I see out of stress (too late). I have one remaining bottle of rhubarb cider waiting for me to have at supper, but until then, I am going to review until my dad gets here. He's come down for moral support and is going to come to my speech :)

I have some yummy looking smoked pork chops to BBQ up with some tin foil veg for supper for the 2 of us. J works tonight but he hopefully can come to the speech tomorrow too, and afterwards my committee and I are going out for lunch at the faculty club. The speech isn't in a big room, just a small board room, so there won't be more than 10 people there to hear me speak. I almost wish it was in a bigger room so my brother and some of my coworkers could come, but I suppose "just" a MSc isn't that big of a deal to people on a monday at the start of fall classes.

Oh well, *I* know how important it is to *me* - Dad, J and I and my brother and his family are going to go out for chinese to celebrate for supper at a yummy gluten free place and I will be sure to put some of my IPA in the fridge to crack when I get home from the speech and lunch to celebrate. It's been a month in the bottle so it should be ready to drink from my hideous english celebratory beer mug I found this spring...the hideous makes it taste better :)

I just have an image of me panicking and not being able to answer questions intelligently under pressure and just saying the same few words over and over again in a panic, but I am hoping I can keep it together. Deep down I know that I know this stuff, I really do. It's just a matter of not wigging out.


If you hear a WOHOO tomorrow at about noon, it's just me :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

RIP Jerry Nelson

I grew up learning to count from his voice...counting fruit and cheerios with my Mum at the breakfast table. Like Mr. sad he's gone on.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Take notes

I think I have found a new easy job - property assessment. Come over to a house and measure a few things, take some notes and a few pictures and say "Hm...Yes..." a few times and after 20 minutes get $250. Seems like a pretty sweet deal to me.

Had to get the house assessed for our mortgage renewal. Very curious of it's current value...have no idea. We bought the place at low times and things have really changed since then. We plan on living here forever. Just curious...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

hard to focus yet can't focus on anything else

I'm getting damn tired of being to busy to deal with things, but cannot spare the time to deal with anything but this.
Just for 1 more week.

Hear me baby hold together...

In my avoidance of studying...

...this made me laugh until coffee came out of my nose.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

We shall see my little pretties. We shall see.

It's a tricky thing. I'm not so concerned about the basic facts about my thesis and the results. Because my project is a design to improve testing and diagnosis, what interests me and what I want to be able to discuss is the why's and how's of it all. Why is my work needed? How is it applied in this particular way? And most of all - what does it mean, really, in a practical sense when applied to breast cancer diagnosis in the labs. To properly interpret my results I need to be able to explain why and how they are relevant and useful. Yes, how I got them is also important, but there are so many many reasons why and how.

You know...I feel the *itch*. And if I was single and didn't have a great job and chose to do so I could focus on this kind of research all my life. I feel the groove...I get this and I understand it and it is something real and positive I can give to my field. I can help make clinical testing better. THAT is amazing. Really. SOOOO many MSc projects are minute examinations of technical minutia and I am lucky...and there is so much more to do with this. I've just built the foundations. I am glad there are people willing to take it. I *want* them to. A small part of it wants it to be me and I'll be sad to put this all behind me because it's so damn interesting and important to me as a technician and as a big geek and as someone who wants to kick cancer square in it's jewelly bits as much as possible. Yes it tempts me a bit...just a bit to do my PhD.

 But not enough...I simply could not continue to live this way. I remember how I felt writing the thesis and giving up most of myself and my life to this child-thesis-thing I have created. I am lucky to have a partner who supports me through all this, when the work and school seem so much more important than them sometimes... I am lucky enough to have found myself a job where I can still make a difference in different ways. I still can help people with their them solve medical puzzles and support them with all of the skills and abilities I've gathered. Already this week in a meeting I was able to strut my managerial funky stuff and help pull my group together and work towards their eventual new home. I have a good reason to be where I am. I don't need to carry my research torch further...I can pass it on to someone else to do. I can still get to be on the national IHC QA steering committee and be involved in how my work is used on the side as much as I choose to. It will be an odd thing to try and find a balance in my future life between life and work and this, whatever it is. Yes, 2 years of chaos and driven effort have shown me what I'm capable of, but burnt me out. I've lost my sense of normal. I don't know how to be bored.
Thing is - I want my life back (whatever it will become) and I want it now :)

And so I will continue to brush up on things and try and prepare for my defense and for the life to come after it. I am starting feel as though I just might pull this off. And I'll have one hell of an attempt to try and explain myself and show my hard work to someone who will be able to truly understand it...we shall see.

T-10 days...

Monday, August 13, 2012


While reviewing some main papers this evening, I just realized that one of the persons I reference in my thesis discussion who has done a lot of work in the same area as my the same individual who has been arranged to be my external reviewer for my defence.


It explains his interest and I am glad to have someone who will intimately understand my work. On the other hand...I will be reviewed by someone who will intimately understand my work. I have an international expert as my reviewer. This simultaneously thrills and terrifies me.


Where's that 14 year old scotch?

Love day and the start of the countdown

Thankfully the nice grad rep in my office is not like the people in the main one - she emailed me saturday morning as soon as she knew to let me know that the external reviewer has agreed to still be my external, so my defense date has now (finally!) officially been set. It will be the 27th as previously hoped for. With only 2 weeks to spare. Eep. It was a HUGE relief to get that made the rest of the weekend a much nicer one. Since it was my anniversary yesterday I particularly appreciated the made the day much better to be able to just relax and spend a whole day together.

It was so nice to spend a whole day with J on sunday. It was our 12th anniversary, and we had such a nice day together. It's been insanely busy for both of us lately. We slept in forever in the sunshiney warm bed with the cats and made blueberry lemon cornmeal pancakes for brunch. The weather was amazing so we headed out for a nice long walk down by the river on the hike paths and brought a blanket and some wine and just sat and relaxed and enjoyed each other's company all afternoon, sipping Gewurztraminer in the sunshine in the woods right down by the river. We actually saw a falcon dive down and catch a fish right in front of us while we were there! How cool is that?

J and I got ourselves spruced up a bit and went out for dinner to a lovely little place that we keep meaning to get to - St. Tropez Bistro. J has done a few cooking segments with the chef there, and has raved about the place. We finally got to have a relaxing meal there. It's been around in Saskatoon for many years, and is the kind of place where it's the chef, his sioux chef and his wife who serve and is incredible food in a casual but still classy atmosphere. They have a roof top garden where they grow some of the herbs and veg they serve. Really enjoyed it. Everything was delicious, right down to the edible flower garnish on the basil chicken. I loved it and definitely want to go back again... fantastic food and wine and even a delicious creme caramel for dessert. Pleasure piggy heaven :)

Then a long languid walk around in the evening...such a nice way to spend the day. Together. :)

Now begins my two weeks of madness planning for my defence. Thankfully, as a stress tool I've been focusing on building the powerpoint of my speech so it's nearly done. I just have to try and review all the little details about my project and prepare for potential questions and go over the talk a few times to make sure it flows and isn't too long. Now that I have an actual date (finally!) I feel like I can really get we go. I still feel like I shouldn't get excited about it like something else will come along and change it again, but barring nuclear war or death, I think I'm good.

The countdown begins today!! 14 days...

Friday, August 10, 2012

oh, the suspense is killing me

Well, after grad studies office on campus has had my thesis for THREE WEEKS they finally approved my external examiner. Yes - apparently that was the only delay. They had to officially approve him in order for things to proceed and people who were on holidays just passed it on around within the department and no one really wanted to deal with it. My supervisor came back from holidays yesterday and raised holy hell that this hadn't been approved yet as soon as he knew, because neither I nor anyone else (even my grad advisor) could do anything but wait. And really - come on: the guy is an MD and a PhD and is a professor with full tenure at his university working in my field of research and we have arranged for funding to bring him here - so why does it take THREE WEEKS to approve that? Why is it even an issue?). Gads.
And, all of a sudden magically, in one day he is approved with muttered apologies from the office.
Fricking bureaucracy...I wonder if my supervisor was not back just how much longer it would have taken? It's less than 3 weeks from the official date for god's sake.

So, now...NOW...I am waiting on pins and needles all day (and hopefully not all weekend or I'll go mad) to hear if my external is still available and willing to do this and come into town on Aug 27th to be the examiner as he had previously offered to. And if so, then I'm good to go. I hope to go out for dinner this weekend since it's my anniversary and would love to be able to have a toast to this...and definitely do NOT want an overshadowing of it NOT happening...
If it is not...well, I don't even know what to say.

If this is fucked up and my life is rearranged yet again, possibly mucking up all manner of bits of my life in the future and causing another ulcer because some desk pusher was on holidays and couldn't bother to make sure her job as done in her absence? Well, there will be hell to pay. And I will see to it personally. I will light the fire in the pit, dig the tunnel to hades myself and bring the gasoline to get the fire started too. As it stands, regardless of this outcome, after I defend and am confirmed completed I will be sending a letter expressing my opinion on how this whole affair is handled. "It's summer and everyone is away" and the total disregard for graduate students as actual people I have experienced through all this by higher up people is ridiculous. I'm here. It's my life. I've not been away and have had no summer at all because of this whole gong show. It's maddening.

I vow that I, in my future management job, will NEVER treat a person as a number or object, least of all  because I have experienced firsthand how that feels and how much that attitude can screw with someone's life. As an academic institution we exist to serve students. This disconnect is appalling.

Please all of you in the interwebs, cross all of your available appendages and offer alms to whatever deities you follow on my behalf. Please.
I will be whimpering quietly in the corner waiting for news.

LATER: Still nothing. I get to wonder about this all weekend...*sigh*

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

and she's buying a stairway to....

There's beautiful. Then there's safe. I for one, despite my weeding rants, love my front yard right now...the virginia creeper is all lush and green with a hint of red from the sun, and the aged railway ties make it seem cozy and cottage like.

Pity they are the stairs of DOOOOM!

The wood and walls are rotting and heaving, so sadly, I must look into how to fix it all, and what our different options are. I know absolutely nothing about all this adult sort of business - walls and yards are not my thing. Yes I spent a summer landscaping, but I just pruned and sawed and mowed. Building walls and stairs is waaaaaay out of my league. Dad won't even think about looking at it either. If we fix this, I want to do this once and never need to we need to do it properly. And by we I mean not we :)
I don't even want to think about what it will cost. That's for another

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


Good lord my yard is a jungle. I pulled 2 full bags of weeds from it yesterday and you'd never know it. The back yard (which no one sees of course) is relatively well tended and weed-whacked, but the front is a maze of vines and weeds and tree shoots. Trees are trimmed back and pruned and vines have been coaxed away from the front steps to keep them safe. So much rain and hot weather this year has made the vines grow in huge and lush...along with zillions of weeds.
I cannot wait to change it. I enjoy yard work to a point, if there's eventual flowers or edible food involved (or weedwhacking just cuz it's fun), but weeding is like making the bed. It pains me to do it more than an hour a week because you just know you'll be doing it again right away, so why bother really? When there are weeds everywhere you look it seems pointless to even start, but necessary in the end to keep the house looking non-abandonded. The nieghbor across the street is trying to sell his house so I'm making more of an effort. Thankfully it was a nice warm day with beer to pass the time.
Because the walls made of railway ties are starting to rot they need to be rebuilt. When that is done the vines and weeds will be discarded for low growing junipers and rock. No more weeds...

Thursday, August 02, 2012


I've posted about it before, but lately I have been reading through Hyperbole ad a Half many posts there have made me laugh until I cried.

Things like:
Games you can play with a brick
A Better Pain Scale
Awkward Situation Guide
The God of Cake

make me giggle uncontrollably.

Check it out :)

Cunning Plans

 Life is wierd ya know. It seems a lot of things have been hitting me hard lately. Been distant from people, including my partner who is dea...