Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Just before Christmas I made my way down to Virginia, via a few stops in New Jersey. It was so sad to leave so much snow; we had at least a foot of snow at my house when I left, and it was still falling! It definitely didn't help with driving progress, but I still made OK time. My bigger driving problem was that I was still on 66 near DC at 3:00 when rush hour started. Over an hour was added on to my total trip because of that timing. Oh well, I still made it home in time for dinner!

Christmas was great as I was able to see my adorable niece. She is around a year and a half old, and has grown so much since I saw her this summer! I gave her a play camera for Christmas as she loves having her picture taken, and she seemed to really enjoy it. It may be another year before she really understands how to use it, but she likes pushing the buttons on it and having other people pretend to take her picture with it.

Today though we actually had some flurries here! I couldn't believe it was actually snowing, especially since it was warm enough for me to wash my car yesterday morning. It didn't stick though, and also didn't last for very long. But at least it felt like winter for a bit. How amazing, winter in December!

Well, I only have a few more days of vacation left, and then it's back to Massachusetts to work on all of those paper deadlines that are rapidly approaching. It was a fun break though, and since it's snowing in MA again today I'll definitely have snow when I get back!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Officially Class Free!

As of 12:30PM this afternoon, I have finished all of the course requirements for my graduate program! This is of course assuming I pass the class whose final I took this morning, but I'm not very worried about that.

Yes, I am a fourth year graduate student who is just now finishing classes; but for my department, this is a normal amount of time. Luckily, they just decreased our required course load by 4 classes, so instead of taking classes again next semester, I can completely focus on my research. What a relief! I am not opposed to classes, but I have lost so much time in the last 3.5 years because of classes that I can't wait to catch up on all of the different research pursuits I've been working on. I plan to still sit in on some classes and take a few interesting seminars, but now I can choose solely based on what is useful to me, and therefore concentrate on learning what I need to know instead of worrying about a grade.

It's an amazing feeling to be done. Sure, I have a year or two left in the program (our median is almost 7 years), but I finally don't have to take classes! Amazing! It's similar to the feeling I had after taking my last final in undergrad, where this immense burden is just gone. An important goal has been accomplished! I feel as if I have plenty of time to accomplish anything I want. Hopefully that will last at least a few days.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

You can have an Obama [insert anything]!

It's interesting how many e-mails I get from Barack Obama's campaign as well as a month after elections have ended. They are still trying to raise money, and are going about trying to get donations by offering many different free items for your donation. In the past few weeks I have been offered "limited edition" calendars, hats, scarves, t-shirts (first there was a Victory t-shirt, now there's an Inauguration t-shirt), long-sleeve t-shirts, and stickers. Actually, the stickers from were free right after the election, although they encouraged you to also make a donation (I got a free one).

Do people really need to be essentially bribed to give money? Wouldn't it be more effective if all of the money went to the campaign, instead of also having to pay for the goodies? But yet, I can't help but want the goodies myself. The idea of "free" things, even if I'm technically paying for it, can be too much to resist! However, I have indeed resisting giving more money to anyone this late in the year (Although I did get conned into finally giving to an environmental group, and my "gift" for being a first time donor should be coming in the mail soon!).

On another note, anyone who watches The Daily Show is probably thinking about the segment they did just after the election about all of the Obama stuff that is floating around nowadays. "Get your commemorate plate now, to celebrate the election of our first black president!" It's consumerism at it's best (or worst, depending on how you look at it), but yet I still want "stuff" so I can commemorate such an exciting time in America! So far I've only succumbed to stickers though, as I'm trying to get less "stuff" in general!! I guess it helps to have a limited amount of disposable income, thank you graduate school! Although most people can probably "thank" the recession for giving them that same situation.