Getting Ready for Eurovision

Let me preface this by saying I love the Eurovision song competition. It always cracks me up. And with the advent of YouTube, we can all enjoy the wacky videos far ahead of time.

For instance, a few years ago for Christmas I got a cd with all of Finland's entries over the years. One cd and only a few decent songs- the rest were total crap and we thoroughly enjoyed laughing at them. For those of you unfamiliar with Finland's record in Eurovision, they came in dead last many, many times. In my eyes, Finland redeemed itself for eternity by winning in 2006. Lordi was so... Finnish. I can't believe they won the country competition. Usually the granny vote wins out and some lame song goes to Eurovision.

I think the Granny vote wins in most countries... which is why so many of the songs are cheesy and lame. Except for Germany, whose entrants often have me asking WTF? (this year, its gotta be Ukraine, whose video is one hot mess... well, mostly a mess, and a squished kiwi... but I'll have to talk about that another day).

So, back to Lordi. Imagine all the usual peace, love, and lame songs. The usual Spanish euro-trash dance song, Russian chicks frenching each other, and then this:

I just love Finland.

Here's a classic Finn-entry from 1961 by one of my all time favorite singers, Laila Kinnunen:

My dissertation is DONE!

I turned in my dissertation this afternoon! Yay. It is almost over. I have my final defense in two weeks.

I even pick up my graduation gown tomorrow. Crazy.

I honestly don't know what to do with myself right now. So I'm watching some of my backlog of tv shows that I couldn't watch because I was working like crazy. Right now I'm watching part of the final season of Boston Legal.

I might be stressed out, but at least I'm not crazy like Michele Bachmann

My state has a crazy congresswoman. She's not from my district, and I am still amazed she ever got reelected... because she is crazy. Seriously crazy. I believe the proper term is actually batshit crazy.

Her latest? Apparently she finds it notable that the last swine fly outbreak occurred under a Democrat president also. 'Cause if Dick Cheney was still protecting our borders, he would have waterboarded those damned viruses before they ever infected Americans... Never mind she's wrong. Ford, not a Democrat, was president, and it wasn't exactly an outbreak. Oh yeah, and those mandatory vaccinations he ordered killed some people with Guillain-Barre syndrome.


Wonder what else she's been up to? She was calling for a revolution last month, and earlier this month claiming that new government volunteer programs were really going to be re-education camps for our youth. A few years ago, she pawed all over Bush after a state of the union address. Last fall, she urged an investoigation to find the "un-American" members of congress. Ironically, she also voted against requiring health insurance companies to cover mental illness.

It is really sad when you can google someone's last name with "batshit crazy" and come up with lots of results. Try it, and look her up on YouTube. Amazing.

Still Breathing!

Ok, so I freaked out a little bit yesterday about my impending dissertation due date. I dealt with it in the best way possible: with a nap. My husband and cat joined in. They're real team players.

I started out my morning at the doctor's office because I thought I had an appointment. I was wrong. It is next week. So I took the bus to my office and bought a lovely coffee from the vending machine. Ah... vending machine coffee.

I finished chapter 4 and sent it to my advisor, so that's done. I also managed to finish all of chapter 2 except for part of the results (which are still pending) and the discussion. So that means 3 chapters done, and the last one 70% done. Looking pretty good!

What's left? A little data analysis and that discussion. Then: finishing my general introduction and general discussion. I have bits and pieces of each, but I'm being rather picky about the writing. I've written and rewritten the introduction a few times now, but I think I'm finally getting at something I'm happy with.

So, can I do it? I'm feeling optimistic right now. Optimistic enough that I'm writing this and watching Top Gear instead of working on that introduction!

On the shoe front, I found a pair of zebra and black patent leather wedge sandals. I'm excited. My advisor told me it wouldn't pass subfusc, but he's not at Oxford anymore. Silly advisor. I can wear all the zebra print shoes I want with my gown. Ha!

Only Partially Freaking Out

Alright. I finished the formatting. I added in the final appendix. I started a complete rewrite of my introduction chapter and I'm actually happy with the framework that I'm taking on now. Excited about it actually.

His holiness went over the introduction, modelling section, and methods of Chapter 4 (the one that's taken him 2.5 years to tackle), so I made those minor corrections. I have a feeling that more major corrections are to come. The data analysis and results are very complicated... and make for a complicated story.

So what does that leave? Finish the introduction, finish the general discussion (which is pretty decent so far, but only 25% done), and write chapter 2. That writing chapter 2 part is going to be a bitch. I did write up with model for appendix 2, so at least that part is done.

I have exactly a week. It can be done.

Formatting Like a Madwoman

The dissertation is due to my committee in 9 days, and I have been busy. I met with my advisor, his holiness, this morning. He thought I was joking when I said it was due April 29th. On the plus side, he's now actually going to read that draft of a manuscript I first sent him 2.5 YEARS ago. I know he's serious this time because he emailed me earlier his hour asking for the most recent version (from last fall). He's actually a great advisor, we've all just been busy with everything else and he thinks my other work is more interesting than what is to become chapter 4. Not reading that draft has become a running joke... of course more funny to him than to me!

Chapter 3 is actually in review at a journal, so I went ahead and copied and pasted it into the dissertation file... and formatted and formatted and renumbered equations and added the figures into the proper places and formatted the captions and made sure my list of figured automatically reformatted properly and made sure Endnote did its thing with the new references and added 3 new appendices (condensing 5 from that manuscipt into a mere 3).

Chapter 1 is in review at a journal, so that was also a cut and paste job.

Chapter 2 is completely unwritten. HAHAHA. I am insane. Or going to be insane. Hell, I haven't even finished the data analysis. I still have eggs to count for the data analysis. Luckily, I love data analysis, and that degree in English comes in very handy with the writing. Plus I have many grants and proposals plus a project charter for that experiment to pull from. My goal is to be done with a decent draft of it by Friday.

My current goal is to figure out the multi-level list function in Word so that I can have my figures autonumber themselves in the form "Figure 3-5" for chapter 3 figure 5 rather than "Figure 15," which is what it is at the moment. The continuous numbering is driving me crazy.

Hospital Escape: Time to Talk Shoes!

So I managed an escape from the hospital yesterday. I was so happy to get out- and get that IV out. The second one I got was really hurting. At least my new crash helmet kept me entertained. I got to walk around with the nurse, a nursing assistant following me with a wheelchair, and my husband... all while covered with wires and my crash helmet. I had a whole entourage.

The outcome of the whole experience? I got a tiny bit of work done. I had some surprisingly decent food (they had room service, where you order off a menu). I had a few seizures, or rather "events" as they call them. The diagnosis? Non-epileptiform seizures. I asked if they could be related to my migraines, and the doctor said that definitely could be the case. That's pretty much what I had figured it was to start with, so no mystery here. In any case, I go back to see my neurologist in a few weeks for the followup.

Now, on to a more interesting topic: SHOES! I am graduating next month with the PhD and this is the first graduation of mine that I have been to since high school. Much of my family is coming, which will be cool, and since they're southern, they will be dressing nice. I found a black sheath dress on eBay for $3.50, which I hope fits because it is super cute. This leaves the shoes. I'm wearing the whole black gown and hood thingy and tam (the poofy hat, which cracks me up). I need cool shoes. I thought about black, but that's boring. I'm pretty sure I'm going to get these:

I like them. I tend to get pretty wobbly and I'm not too keen on having to bring my cane to my graduation! Its not that I mind the cane, but I'd just rather not in this situation. I'd rather focus on my awesome poofy hat and a kick-butt pair of shoes.

I'm thinking that if I don't do red patent leather, I am going to look for a good animal print (rawr!).

Hoping for Seizures: A Sad State of Affairs

What kind of a crazy person hopes for seizures? Me! Well, I just want whatever crazy things that happen to me to hurry up and happen so that I can go home. I have a couple of "events" yesterday. I think the doctors' sleep deprivation scheme worked too well because I essentially fell apart at the seams.

Today, I got a new IV (yuck), and this afternoon they're going to get me walking around in an attempt to provoke something. I have to wear a helmet. Yippeee. At least I'm on a neuro floor where just about everyone has wires or shaved heads and surgical headgear.

At the moment I have my door closed. I spent yesterday people watching in my attempt to stay awake. I made it about 32 hours without sleep.

Video EEG: My Own Reality Show

So I'm ending my second day in the hospital on a video EEG study. Right now, my head is covered in wires (cemented on) and I have a camera aimed at me. It's my own reality show, and it isn't much fun.

And did I mention they've put me on a fall precaution?? Oh yes. I have to be supervised when I go to the bathroom. I'm not allowed to leave the bed. They even put a bed alarm on, so they know when I'm trying to evade them. I hate it when they do that. They did that to me the last time I was in the hospital. I'm not even allowed to sit on the edge of the bed...

Tonight, the torture continues: enforced sleep deprivation. No sleep tonight or tomorrow. They are trying to provoke some seizures. Because the sooner they get some seizures, the sooner I get out of here. I had to do a sleep deprivation EEG a couple of years ago, and that was brutal. This time, I'm on camera and there's a hospital staff to enforce my awakeness. So I get to be stuck in bed, but stay awake. Good times.

And did I mention I'm in a university teaching hospital? Oh yes, medical students, residents, nursing students. At least that keeps things interesting. Still, have a med student the age of my baby brother taking care of me is odd. I guess that means I'm getting old!

19 Days Left

I have 19 more days until my dissertation is due to my examining committee. I have 5 days until I write to each of them and inform them that my dissertation will be arriving to them in 14 days. Then May 14th is the big day: my defense. I have been threatening to bring a small trebuchet to defend myself with, but his holiness, my advisor, informed me that weapons are not allowed. He can be so un-fun. Plus, he throws things at me all the time: celery, nerf darts, chocolate, pens shaped like missiles. I did kick him yesterday, so that makes me feel a little better,

But I have been productive. I just submitted a paper to the Proceedings of the Royal Society yesterday. I am afraid I did not purge all of my American spelling, so I hope the reviewers forgive me. His holiness, my advisor, got his DPhil from Oxford, so at least I have an excuse. As my co-author, he does not!

Yesterday, I also added a few paragraphs to my general discussion. Then I counted dozens and dozens of scans of fruit fly eggs (boring...). Today I finished some formatting and cross-referenced figure numbers.

At this very moment, I am skipping a lecture on the history of my field of study, and contemplating skipping a pub night with colleagues. I am too lazy to drive, plus my vision isn't exactly its best right now. Plus, I'm lazy. Did I mention that?

April Blah

I'm tired. Super tired. I went on a data analysis binge yesterday and got a ton of work done. I finished a poster for a university research thingy tomorrow (and got that printed today), and was able to add two brand-spankin' new graphs to it. I am a little stunned at how cool the results are looking so far. I guess my general pessimism about experiments working out has the benefit in that I can only ever be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Today was more data and more counting things. Ever since the optic neuritis (which continues), my eyes really hurt when they're tired. I always had more fuzzy vision at the end of the day, but now its super fuzzy and painful. Totally sucks. But it should get better with time (according to the wise neuro-ophthalmologist... who also informed me my other optic nerve is damaged from something in the past. As my husband said, when the wife warranty runs out, everything starts breaking).

I did manage to get a manuscript draft to my advisor before he had the chance to nag me. This is the one that was reviewed by Science, for what seemed like ages (well, actually weeks), and then got rejected. We really have to get it off to the next journal, so I corrected some things and reformatted it. Hopefully his holiness can decide he likes it and we can submit it again. Regardless, it is chapter 1 of my dissertation and is now complete.