Friday, December 4, 2009

finally, an upswing

Nothing like a little tiny success in the lab to make the whole week seem like a good one. I successfully etched off a 160-nm layer of nitride after firing at 1350C in the furnace by undercutting the oxide layer beneath it! Fabuloso! Walking into the lab and seeing that shiny silicon surface at the bottom of the beaker just made my entire day. It also helped that I got to see Padma Lakshmi (of Top Chef!) give a talk this afternoon about her struggles with endometriosis, which I'd never heard of before, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see her in person! She is a great speaker - eloquent and lively, and I only hope I look that good when 7-8 months pregnant. I mean, who can pull off patterned lace tights under a sweater dress while pregnant? Kudos to her. ;)

Anyway, I also made some headway in the modeling part of my thesis work, with a little help from coding-superstar Tony. What would I do without him? I'm getting a little better at manipulating this Python code, which at first glance each time I open up the file still looks like a gibberishy robot language. Bit by bit I'm able to pick out pieces of the code that I need to modify to fit my problem, slowly starting to understand more of how it works and what I can do. I certainly don't feel like an expert, which I should get closer to if I want a PhD for this, but the small successes at least give me the confidence to think I can continue to increase my comprehension. I also got a super tiny boost from my advisor this week (I'll take what I can get) when he suggested that I could write three papers, one for each area of my research, and make those basically the three middle chapters of my thesis. Just the knowledge that he wants me to do this gives me so much motivation to do some publication-worthy work and do it SOON! Oh, brains, work with me now. Let's make this happen.

I've started really thinking about Christmas presents to give to my family. I want to get this stuff done early so I don't have to hit the mall craziness on Dec 23 in San Diego. All my favorite blogs are coming up with amazing gift guides for the holidays, but the end result is just me finding a bunch of lovely things that I want for myself and can't afford, things that I'm pretty sure my weight-lifting protein-powder-drinking doesn't-even-own-a-laundry-hamper little brother would not like to receive on Christmas day. Oh well, I still enjoy looking at these lists! I especially love this one by Creature Comforts or this funny one at DesignSponge. *sigh* Can one earn a PhD in Blog-Reading? Perhaps in Multitasking?

Anyway, we had a fabulous Thanksgiving celebration at Auntie Kumu's house in Connecticut, with many of the cousins and also the next generation, which currently consists of only boys. Someone had the brilliant idea to buy them Nerf guns, and an all-out war of capture the flag ensued one evening, engulfing both the little boys and the big "boys". Yes, pretty much anyone male could be found running around the house, hiding behind the kitchen table, panting and grabbing yellow foam bullets from the cracks of the sofa cushions. We dainty ladies tried to avoid being hit in the cross-fire while we put together a lovely countryside puzzle. Oh, it was quite a sight. After that exhausting weekend, it seems strange that xmas is only a few weeks away! Where did this semester go? Wasn't I going to have a lot more work done by this point in the year? Well, those questions can be answered later. It's Friday and I'm ready to cook a delicious meal with my good-looking crazy-family-tolerating boyfriend. Hooray!

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