Lauren's Diary

"So this is the foundation for my
internet diary - searching for the
truth and seeing what else comes
along on the way."
05.19.99 diary entry

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Monday, 10.20.03

Quote of the Day:
�I feel like a worm. Worse than a worm, because worms are very environmentally helpful.�
Princess in Love

As I was sitting through seventeen combustion talks today I began to compile all of the webpage updates I�ve intended to post over the last week. And it got to the point where there were so many that I decided to put them into a diary entry since there haven�t been many of those lately. Not that I haven�t been meaning to write any. Here is a list of topics for possible diary entries (and the dates they were originally conceived) that I keep in my Palm Pilot to elaborate on when I get a chance.

�The Producers� (August 24)
Confessions of a sugar addict (September 5) � in process
�The Two Towers� (September 21)
California recall election (September 26) � in process
Books I own but haven�t read (October 1)

When the list gets too long I have a strong urge to just ignore it and that�s why many diary entries never get written. But when I do put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) I remember how therapeutic it is to record my thoughts. So the notable events of my life in the past week can be found in this entry. Notable in the sense that I remember them well enough to write about them almost a week later. Then again I�ve been pretty bored today.

Wednesday, 10/15
I never get sick. At least that used to be the case. In high school I could count the number of times I was even slightly under the weather on one hand. And only once did I have an illness that kept me out of school � strep throat in the tenth grade. I�ll never forget that since it ruined my audition for a choral ensemble when I had to go to a dance audition with a fever and chills. Besides that I was the picture of health. And then I went to college. Living in the close quarters of a dormitory and my sorority house caused me to have a few more colds than usual, but I wasn�t much worse off than high school. Except for that one time. That time I was too sick to stand up for five days. That time I was too sick to study and I failed my final exams as a result. Other than that everything was just fine, but graduate school hasn�t been so kind. Besides hardly ever getting sick in the past, I also didn�t seem to catch anything from someone who was already ill. If I did defy the odds and get sick it was usually when everyone else was perfectly healthy. Not this time. This time I jumped on the bandwagon and caught the cold that was going around my research group. Being such an isolated environment the lab must have been teeming with germs and my immune system just wasn�t strong enough to repel all of them. Working in the nanolab is not a pleasant experience when you constantly need a tissue. Not only are they not allowed inside, but the only possible substitute is clean room wipes whose rough texture isn�t exactly nose-friendly.

Thursday, 10/16
TA strike update:
I got an email yesterday from the UCLA Graduate Division asking whether or not I �fulfilled all assigned job duties scheduled for Friday, October 3, 2003.� That was the day when the TA union was on strike. On October 7 an email from the union told me, �If the University directs you to report whether you worked during the unfair labor practice strike or otherwise takes steps to dock your pay, it is important that you contact the Union office right away to seek advice. In general, we have the right not to work during a strike, and the University has the right to not pay us for work we did not perform.� I have never been a member of a union before, but apparently my almost negligible salary can be reduced even further. Fortunately for me (and my financial situation) I did hold my discussion class that Friday because I figured it was more important to help my students with their homework than ignore my responsibilities for reasons I never understood in the first place. Or march around Westwood with a sign. We�ve had enough of that in the past week and a half during the grocery store workers strike.

Friday, 10/17
Every Friday, while sitting in my research group�s weekly meeting, I have the best of intentions for the coming week. After realizing that I have squandered the past seven days I vow to do better from that day forward. I�ll spend my free time every day working in the lab, running experiments, gathering data, and generally making progress so that my advisors can�t help but be happy. Then Friday rolls around again and I�m back to where I was one week earlier. It�s a vicious cycle. Even when I�ve done a lot of work in the past week I still end up feeling lazy when the group meeting rolls around. And when you have advisors like mine it�s easy to see why. Today Caesar delivered the latest news regarding our search for new o-rings (compatible with the -100 F temperature of a dry ice/acetone bath) and then we were asked, �Are you guys doing anything else. Is this a full time job?� Not asked really, but rather attacked. After that I was able to mumble something about my work in the nanolab that week. If I hadn�t been so shaken I might have said, �I�ve been working in the nanolab every day!� Since I am a TA I�m not getting paid for research work this quarter, but I�m still expected to be working on it. I have to have new data for my thesis. So, in the week preceding this group meeting, I spent multiple hours each day in the nanolab fabricating new wafers for my experiment. But no matter what we do it�s just not going to be good enough for our advisors. I hope that my future work place isn�t such an oppressive environment. And maybe I�ll get paid enough there to cover more than just my rent each month too.

Monday, 10/20
Today started out badly. I wasn�t able to get up at 6 AM when my alarm went off so I rushed out of my apartment at 7:30 AM, an hour later than I had planned, thinking I was already going to be late. Then, when I was halfway to the UCLA Faculty Center (a thirty minute walk to from my apartment), I realized that I had left my shoes at home. No, I wasn�t walking around barefoot. Let me explain. UCLA is hosting the Western States Section of the Combustion Institute (WSSCI) conference today and tomorrow and I had to wear nicer clothes than usual because I was working there. If making sure that the LCD projector is compatible with everyone�s laptop can be called work. So, after going back home for the necessary footwear, I arrived just slightly late with my running shoes on my feet and my black boots in my backpack. In order to give the appearance of a responsible graduate student (and to make my advisor happy) I registered for the conference more than a month ago, but this didn�t avert another disaster this morning. When I got to the Faculty Center my name wasn�t on the list of registered attendees and, of course, I hadn�t brought my receipt with me to prove that it should have been. Fortunately one of the MAE department staff members recognized that a mistake had been made and I was allowed in. While the talks and papers are related to my field of study going to something like this isn�t my idea of fun, so why would I be trying to sneak in? My credit card bill shows that I paid $40 to be here today and tomorrow and I am going to get my money�s worth whether I like it or not. It�s 4:30 PM now, soon it will be time for the reception (what most of the cost of attendance went toward), and hopefully that will be more fun. And more food.

At this point the only topic from the above list more boring than the one(s) you�ve just read about would be �books I own but haven�t read.� At least that would just be an inventory from my personal library. In fact, I�ll include it here so that I can delete that intended diary entry from the list. It was compiled on October 1, but I have appended it to reflect my current literary situation. Which may be more interesting than my current overall situation.

Books I own but haven�t read:
Cordelia�s Honor by Lois Bujold
The Wish List by Eoin Colfer (finished on 10/12)
Stealing the Elf King�s Roses by Diane Duane
The Sword and the Dragon by Diane Duane
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
Dune Messiah (Book 2) by Frank Herbert
Children of Dune (Book 3) by Frank Herbert
The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
The Slippery Slope (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the Tenth) by Lemony Snicket (finished on 10/4)

-Lauren Gleason