Almost another year older‚Ķand some awesome Science Club plans for celebrating ;)

I turn 27 tomorrow! I actually totally forgot this fact until my friend texted me to ask if I was “gearing up for the Big Day” and I briefly panicked that I had forgotten something terribly important. Not that a birthday isn’t important, but I’m not too panicked about forgetting mine since all I need to do is show up and age a little ūüėČ

Part of the reason I had totally forgotten that my birthday was only a day away is that I spent most of today finalizing plans and materials for what will hopefully be a fun high school science club experiment day tomorrow. Our research institute has an outreach program, and mentors 10 high school juniors/seniors in a year-long orthopedics-focues science club as part of this effort. We focused on fracture fixation and mechanical testing for our first lab, and will be focusing on imaging and diagnostic measurements for tomorrow’s lab. Since the experiment is within my area of expertise*, I was eager to take the lead and have been enjoying refining our initial lab brainstorming idea into a high-school level experiment.

The lab is based on making diagnostic measurements for diagnosing femoro-acetabular impingement, which is a condition that causes the neck of the femur to pinch against the hip socket (acetabulum), potentially damaging the cartilage, hip labrum (fibrocartilage rim that deepens the hip socket and helps maintain fluid pressure within the hip joint), and even the bone itself. We are providing the opportunity for the students to learn about the condition itself (anatomy/morphology), some relevant imaging modalities (radiograph and MRI in this case), diagnostic challenges (challenging measurements), and a couple useful statistical parameters (intra- and inter-rater reliability). I’ve been dealing with the experimental side, and our statistician came up with an awesome way to keep the stats stuff fun by performing the more complex calculations himself in SPSS to decrease the tedium/need for extensive background material, and instead focusing on teaching the students about the¬†meaning behind the numbers and allowing them to compete for the best intra-rater reliability/inter-rater reliability with the expert radiologist measurement.

I suppose a normal person might be bummed to be spending their birthday evening hanging out with a bunch of nerdy* high school students while teaching them about the frustration of unreliable measurements, but I’m actually super excited to spend my big day helping an awesome group of students learn about one challenging, but interesting, aspect of musculoskeletal imaging/diagnosis.

*Can’t really call myself an expert at this point, but I’m more of an expert than the non-imaging people, so we’ll go with it…

**Ok, these students barely qualify as nerdy. But they kind of have to be at least a little nerdy to qualify for our science club ūüėČ


Time is flying…

After a rough Monday this week absolutely flew by. ¬†Not to say the rest of the week wasn’t tough – my darling MountainMan has been out of town all week and I really miss him. ¬†Although, I *am* a little relieved he’s been off having fun because if he was home I’d hardly have time to see him anyhow and he’d probably be feeling a bit lonesome. ¬†Yep, this week’s been a packed one!

I started the week off with some grading, thesis writing, a *delightful* soldering session (3 hours of sticking little tiny components together and enjoying the delicious sent of melting solder, mmm) and a late night trying to get my *favorite* finite element model to work.  Workout:  Not-so-easy 4 mile slog down to the local park.  Sooo tired.   

Tuesday I spent the morning switching header wires out for the lab course that I TA. ¬†I actually kind of like these repetitive tasks – mainly because I feel so accomplished when I end up with a nice big pile of parts to prove how much I got done ha ha. ¬†I also pounded out a couple pages of my thesis and did some more work with the model from hell. ¬†Alas, these latter tasks gave me far less concrete rewards for my efforts ūüėõ ¬†Workout: ¬†3 miles with my favorite smartypants running buddy ūüôā ¬†High point of our running conversation? ¬†These awesome-sauce shorts from my new addiction, Oiselle. ¬†Dang you Oiselle and your comfy, comfy clothing!¬†

Wednesday was actually pretty good – I was on campus for 13 hours but my advisor was out of town so I got to actually eat lunch for once instead of rushing from lab, to a meeting, and back to lab like usual and desperately trying not to pass out from hunger while teaching lab. ¬†I am a major fan of lunch!!! ¬†An unfortunate combination of extended office hours (5 hours instead of the usual 1‚Ķyay?), panic over the fact that my model *still* wasn’t working, and wayyyy too much caffeine during the day meant I was up til 2 working on research. ¬†No running for me. ¬†

¬†Thursday brought some enjoyable thesis writing and another tough office hour session (*only* 4 hours this time ūüėõ ¬†But I got a candy bar from a grateful student. ¬†Woot!). ¬†Workout: Felt like I was flying! ¬†2 miles easy downhill, 1 mile up-tempo back up the hill, 1 mile easy (but still uphill, my calves are still tired!). ¬†Freakishly amazing considering the lack of sleep.

Today I taught in the morning and then spent the rest of the day editing figures for a manuscript that I’ve been fortunate enough to contribute to. ¬†I actually kind of like tediously moving and cropping images in Powerpoint. ¬†Especially since I can listen to my new favorite podcast (Welcome to Nightvale – so weird, but so awesome!) while doing so. ¬†Workout: ¬†basically the most difficult 4 miles ever. ¬†Easy pace but was just dragging ūüė¶ ¬†Too much time hunched over computers = back muscles so tight I feel like my lungs are being crushed. ¬†Boo. ¬†


Things I learned this week:

1) ¬†Some of the best runs come when you are least expecting them (ok, already knew that but got a great reminder on Thursday ūüėČ ¬†). ¬†

2) ¬†I find nearly 30 hours of face-time with students exhausting. ¬†I love teaching, but teaching students how to debug code takes a ridiculous amount of patience and energy. ¬†I seriously don’t know how elementary/middle/high school teachers teach all day, every day. ¬†I’d probably turn into a total grouch :S

3) ¬†25 mile weeks can actually be plenty tiring. ¬†Even if weekly mileage less than 50 still *sounds* like a piece of cake to my ex-collegiate-runner brain, when you’ve barely run for almost a year 25 miles in a week provides plenty of physical stress. ¬†I have been extremely grateful for the full 25 miles worth of quiet time & endorphins this week though ūüôā ¬†


I just got back from a 2 mile run that was *supposed* to be a 3 mile run with 8x200m hard/easy wedged in the middle. ¬†Alas, it seems my wimpy little feet had other plans – my left arch kept cramping up and my right toe was achy and stiff. ¬†I turned around after 10 minutes of hoping my uncooperative feet would warm up and behave, but ended up stopping and just walking back when it became evident that I wasn’t going to get to do any of the workout and my feet weren’t improving at all.

I’m annoyed, but holding off the panicky injury thoughts by keeping in mind that I did a hard workout on Tuesday and a nice longer run yesterday and my feet felt fine for both. ¬†And they’ll probably feel just fine tomorrow after I roll & ice them. ¬†

In other news, it looks like this is going to be a fun semester of TAing. ¬†We’re doing team teaching with a lead and secondary TA for each lab section so there’s a lot less chaos and answering questions goes much quicker. ¬†The best part though is getting to see how someone else teaches the material – I think I’ll be a much better teacher after watching two other TA’s and getting new teaching ideas throughout the semester. ¬†Research has been going well too – spent a frustrating 5 hours working on software issues yesterday but finally got a workaround figured out and accomplished my main research goal for the week. ¬†Hurrah!

Teaching & the end of the semester

My students totally made the long hours of TAing and grading worth it today‚Ķgot so many thank you’s for what was apparently a fun semester of lab as students walked out the door at the end of lab and even had a few students asking what lab I’m teaching next semester so they could try to get into my section. ¬†

It might be just because I’m the “nice” TA (apparently some of the students think my fellow TA’s are scary, which I find hilarious), but I figure even niceness can’t make up for crappy teaching. ¬†At least not to the point where students would seek out my lab section! ¬†Actually looking forward to getting my teaching evals this semester – knowing that the majority of my students are actually enjoying the lab and my teaching makes the idea of facing the typical evaluation criticisms seem more like an exciting opportunity to improve on my weaknesses, rather than an intimidating list of my failures as an instructor. ¬†Just the boost I needed on a long Friday before finals’ week! ¬†¬†

Dealing with it

Ok, second blogging break of the day ūüôā

Feeling much better than this a.m.

Decided I just need to handle this 3rd semester like the 3rd lap of a mile race. ¬†I’m far enough in that it’s getting really freaking hard, but still too far out to see the finish line. ¬†Just need to focus on holding the pace with everything I’ve got.


Also, discovered that grading is infinitely better with a few wall-sits added – a fun method of squeezing in some desperately needed exercise ūüėČ


Now, back to grading (and making those quads burn ha ha)