Thursday, March 26, 2009

Good News!

I was approved for the U.S. Department of Education Graduate Plus Loan! A requirement for the Grad Plus Loan is a good credit record. I have traveled a hard road to get to where I am right now and as a result my credit is not exactly stellar. And yet I got the loan!!! I was very concerned about what my options might be if I did not get it. Any option that I could think of involved working full-time and taking my remaining internship credits over a longer period of time. As of yet, I do not have an assistantship offer, but I have had a few job offers. Now, I don't need to accept them. I don't even need an assistantship. I could theoretically just keep my one new 10 hour a week job, take all the credits I need during my remaining two semesters and then I can graduate in December 2009. I feel like a 16 ton block of concrete has rolled off my back.

Life is great when something good finally happens.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Space Shuttle Liftoff!

Space Shuttle Discovery had a spectacular twilight liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center at 7:43 pm this evening. The following images of the liftoff were taken from Paynes Prairie in the northern part of Florida. They are all unedited. Click on each image to enlarge.

The view to my right about 5 minutes before liftoff. People waiting in anticipation.
(Click on the image to enlarge.)

The view to my left. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

There it is! (Click on the image to enlarge.)

You can see more of it if you click on the image.

Wow! (Click on the image to enlarge.)

The launch plume.

May their journey be successful and safe.

Life is great when the space shuttle has a safe liftoff.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Decison Has Been Made

I have decided that I am not going to take the first Big Program Final on March 24. It was a difficult decision to make, but I just cannot take such an important final when I have so much going on in my life that I can barely study. I actually have a list of things to justify my decision. Some of these things are as follows:

1. I received confirmation about two weeks ago that my graduate advisor does not have enough money to continue funding my assistantship after the end of the spring semester. So I have been looking for either another assistantship or a job. I found another part-time job and I started it this week. The employer could not wait until the end of my assistantship for me to begin the new job. I was reluctant to add an additional thing to my already too hectic schedule, but I had to be sure that I did not end up without an income after my assistantship has ended, so I accepted the position. So, in addition to the work I do for my assistantship and my 13 credits of courses, I now have another job. After my assistantship has ended, this part-time one will not be enough. I am continuing the job hunt.

2. I have more than 120 credits which according to the university is too many. They will not allow me to continue receiving financial aid after the end of the spring semester. So I have to appeal. I have some work to do with this one.

3. Since it is likely that I will not have an assistantship for the summer semester, I am going to apply for a graduate supplemental retention award. This award will pay for up to 6 credits per semester for the last 3 semesters. I've got the paperwork; have to make the time somehow to fill it out and turn it in by next week.

4. I am having a couple of health issues which are taking up way too much of my time. The graduate students insurance has a prescription drug capitation limit of $2000. So, they are no longer paying for my asthma medicines. I spent about 5 hours last week dealing with the paperwork to apply to a patient assistant program. Unfortunately, there appears to be a slight glitch in the system and I am not going to get the medicines for at least a month. Since I can't wait that long, I'm now searching for other options.

Am I justified in my decision to not take the final on March 24? Yes, absolutely! Hopefully I can get my life in order and stabilized soon.

I will take the first Big Program Final on Tuesday, June 23 and the second one on Friday, June 26.

Life is great when one can finally make a difficult decision.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Scientists for Better PCR

The PCR Song

There was a time when to amplify DNA,

You had to grow tons and tons of tiny cells.

Then along came a guy named Dr. Kary Mullis,

Said you can amplify in vitro just as well.

Just mix your template with a buffer and some primers,

Nucleotides and polymerases, too.

Denaturing, annealing, and extending.

Well it’s amazing what heating and cooling and heating will do.

PCR, when you need to detect mutations.

PCR, when you need to recombine.

PCR, when you need to find out who the daddy is.

PCR, when you need to solve a crime.

"Scientists for Better PCR" is a Bio-Rad Music Video. Click here for more information.

I admit it, I miss doing PCR.

Life is great when you can hear a really good song.