Thursday, June 30, 2011


Let's start with this post with a famous quote from the extraordinarily wise and handsome Man-In-Black (a.k.a. Westley): "Get used to disappointment."
The Dread Pirate Roberts, telling it like it is.

This should be a mantra for any grad student seeking some kind of manuscript publication, funding, or general cheer in their journey through grad school. Okay, well, maybe I exaggerate and am now falling into the category of drama queen. But I am writing this fresh after a rejection of a recent manuscript....I should say that it took almost 5 months to receive said rejection. I think maybe it would have been better to just send me something almost immediately after submission...perhaps an instantly generated email that kicked back and said: "Well, thank you for your submission, but naaaah, we don't think so...." Instead I waited with bated breath! Oh, alright, I didn't really (the drama queen rears her ugly head again). Actually, I kind of forgot about the manuscript once I hit the submit button.

Which brings us to another topic about manuscripts, and I think proposals for funding as well. Revisions! Had I received a recommendation to revise the manuscript, I would probably be grumbling as well. This is because of the last sentence of the last paragraph. Anyone have any suggestions on keeping those durn manuscripts fresh in your mind after you've completely forgotten about them?? I suppose this is a bad thing to admit, forgetting about a manuscript...especially after you have spent so much time and effort in writing, revising, and preparing it for submission. Perhaps I will gain better memory skills as I progress?

So, another reason for writing this post is due to my imminent dread as I prepare to submit a NRSA proposal. My last proposal for funding (not a NRSA pre-doc) was rejected earlier this year. Thus as I meticulously assign 26 letters to various permutations to create reasonably intelligible communication pleading for my potential and worth as a researcher, I simultaneously gird my loins in preparation for rejection and the battle with my self-esteem! I now understand when my advisor suggests that I celebrate all accomplishments, even the smaller ones. Victory may be few and far between in the years ahead.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Pen

No, not that sort of pen. This past weekend I decided to take a day trip to Jefferson City to check out the Missouri State Penitentiary. They were having a 175th Anniversary celebration.

It closed in 2004 and has been open to the public for tours of its decaying skeleton. It used to house some of the biggest names during the Prohibition era, like "Pretty Boy" Floyd. It also was home to James Earl Ray, who managed to escape prior to events that led to his infamy. Anyways, it was kind of an eerie tour. The guide, who used to work there, took us to the cell block that was once reserved for Black prisoners prior to integration of the institution. We also meandered through Death Row, visited "the Dungeon," where prisoners were kept in complete darkness underground for weeks at a time, and finished the tour off with taking a gander at the gas chamber. It was actually created out of parts of a submarine to ensure that it was indeed airtight. You and a friend could sit in the stuffy, small space. There are seats for two. As a matter of fact, in the only execution of a female prisoner, the woman, Bonnie Brown Heady was seated right next to her partner in crime, Carl Austin Hall for the big event.

The Missouri State Penitentiary, once the largest prisoner institution west of the Mississippi, still seems to carry the ghosts of its past breathing from its dilapidated, paint-peeled walls. And for the price of $12, you too can take a 2 hour tour to listen to their stories and imagine for yourself what life was like in the Pen.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Study Hall

Fill 'er up at Lakota Coffee Co.'s Gas Pumps
Finding a comfortable place to study that provides the perfect amount of white noise, coupled with an studious ambiance and a continuous flow of consciousness-altering, mind-focusing caffeine is essential when you are reading about qualitative research designs or coding intervention studies. So far, I have visited two locations in the area and here are their pros and cons.

1) Lakota Coffee
-Fun Baristas
The view from my seat
-DELICIOUS, though ADDICTIVE coffee that will make you feel like you've run a mile at top speed
-Yummy chocolate chip cookies
-Tasty selection of sandwiches and other pastries and treats
-Sell their own coffee so you can achieve tachycardia at home
-Great ambiance and fun decor
-Convenient hours to fit the early bird (me) or the night owl (not me)6AM-12AM Mon-Sat and 6:30AM-12:00AM on Sun.
-Free wifi

Those tables are rough on
the knees...

-It does smell like a coffee roasting place, so if you don't want that smell all over you when you leave, beware.
-Seats are way comfy, but table as a bit awkward. They have places to rest your feet, but at least for me, my knees kept knocking the upper portion of the design under the table.

2) Panera Bread
-Really good food. And they have options so that the food is good for you (salads, fruits, and whatnot)
-On their website, you can see the nutrition information of their foods.
-Yummy chocolate chip cookies - it is recommended that you do NOT look at the nutritional information of this item. It will only depress you. Especially, after you've already eaten it, and then thought to look it up.
-Comfy booths
-Free wifi

-The place is kept at temperatures equivalent to an arctic chill. Seriously a deal breaker at times. If you do plan on going, bring your parka.
-Coffee is just okay. It does the trick at keeping you focused, but not the best tasting stuff.
-Yeah, they're pricey too...
-Can get fairly crowded and noisy at times.

For now, Lakota wins out for me...mostly because I just can't get over how good their coffee is. I will have to get a barrel of it when I leave. But wait, no need to haul it with me. They have a website! Oh, the wonders of the interwebs. If only I could order their entire shop to hang out in while I study.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Insects, Allergies, and Meta-analyses, Oh my!

This place has been invaded by cicadas. The little buggers are the air, in the trees, on the sidewalks, in my hair. Yes, in my hair. One fell on me as I was locking up my bike at school. The males are all singing that piercing cicada song, like they are shaking the maracas in the trees. The maracas of luuuuuv. Cicadas have an interesting life cycle. They come out of their little underground insect haven to molt and mate for a few days or so, and then they die. It doesn't take very long. Anyways, I was reminded of when I was a kid and wasn't so disgusted by them and picked them up and let them walk on my hand. As I remember, the are very clingy. This was also the season we kids discovered the high-powered water gun. Not a good thing for those pesky cicadas.

Another thing I've noticed here: I'm allergic to something! I had to take some allergy meds yesterday, which kept me up for the greater part of the night. But at least I wasn't suffering in a fog of congestion.  Luckily, I had the foresight to bring my Flonase....and today, I got some eye drops and loratadine. My bike ride home in the haze of allergens and cicada-song wasn't so bad after all.

Lastly, I have been immersed deep in the sea of meta-analyses. Not a bad thing. I'm learning some methods from the ground up, which will be helpful in the long run. It's good to be home though. I'm definitely beat. The B&B is like an oasis, really. It even comes with some resident kitties. This is one of them. I'll have to ask the owner his name again. But there's also a female. She runs off when I try to photograph her, though. Wily kitty.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Next Three Weeks

For most of the month of June, I'll be in-residence working on my research practicum. I just arrived today after driving two days (about 15 hours) to get here. The place I'm staying at is a great B&B called Taylor House Inn. The owners have been generous enough to let me hang out here for the three weeks, even letting me use their kitchen facilities and lock up my bike by the house! This is a photo of the front part of the house. 

Check out the photos of my room...

It's been awesome so far (although it's only been a few hours). I've gone grocery shopping and walked to dinner. Tomorrow, though, it's time to get to work!