Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Hell of a Trip

Well – we’re finally back home. It feels like we’ve been away for months, and I think we did enough traveling to be comparable!

Our flight from Ontario to BC was relatively smooth, although, at the time, we thought we go the short end of the stick! On a five-hour flight we were in the very last row, beside the bathrooms and just in front of the steward area. It was loud, the stewards wouldn’t stop bitching about everything and anything (mostly their co-workers), and the movie choices sucked. If we had known what was coming, we would have relished that time.

It had been snowing in BC – a relatively rare phenomenon where we were staying. We thought we were going to be lucky though, since it snowed the day before we were flying out, but not on the actual day. In fact, the sun was shining!

Then we got to the airport. The line to check in took one-and-a-half hours to get through, and when we got to the front our flight was canceled. The only option they could give us was standby on ONE flight (the rest were full already – even for standby), and we were told that there was not a good chance we would get on.

So, we had the bright idea of renting a car and driving from BC to Alberta (normally about a 10 hour drive). We ran to the rental car booths, but no one would do a one-way rental. We grabbed a cab and went to the bus/train depot to see what we could do there (at this point we felt very much like contestants on the Amazing Race). No dice – there were no trains to Calgary OR Edmonton the next two days. The buses were full.

We saw a Hertz counter, and ask if we can rent a car to go one-way to Alberta. Absolutely! For $600. BAH!!

After a few minutes of contemplation, we decided to go for it. We figured we wouldn’t get out of BC in at least a couple of days if we didn’t (thank goodness we were right – we probably would have been stuck there for 4-5 days). The drive wasn’t perfect, but we got to Alberta after 15 hours of driving and a pit-stop in Revelstoke for a $120 nap.

The weather was fine in Alberta and we had a wonderful Christmas. We managed to change our flight to a day later so we could make up for the lost time we took while driving. The day of our flight was beautiful – warm, partly cloudy skies – should be no problem for flying, right?

Nope. The flight was delayed coming in. Our gate changed three times. Once the plane DID arrive the gate couldn’t attach to the plane properly, delaying the flight even longer. We were getting antsy at this time because we had a two-hour lay-over before the last leg home, and at this point it was shaved down to 30 minutes. Short, but still enough time to make it.

Once we boarded the plane though, it took the baggage handlers 45 minutes to load the plane. 45 MINUTES!! We took off at 5:30pm MST, and the flight was supposed to arrive in 3 hours and 36 minutes – just after 11pm EST. Our connecting flight left at 11:10pm EST.

After running to the gate we managed to make it on the plane with about 30 seconds to spare. Our luggage, of course, did not make the trip. So, we are now without four bags, and are just praying our luck kicks back in and we actually receive it before the new year (or at all).

Next Christmas, we’re staying right here!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's Like Pulling Teeth

Literally! I had my wisdom teeth pulled on Friday, and I look and feel like a bull dog:

The pain hasn't been too bad, and I even managed to bake some cookies and go to a Christmas party last night. But, today, the pain and stiffness have increased and I can barely open my mouth far enough to get a spoon of mango smoothie in there. The stitches are also jabbing into my gums and cheeks - excellent early Christmas gift! The worst thing is not being able to eat solids. I was joking with DH yesterday about getting some baby food, but now I'm wondering if that's not such a bad idea! We leave on Thursday for "The West", so hopefully the pain and swelling will be mostly gone.

Work-wise, things are going well! I've had numerous chats with my supervisor to make sure my analysis for my second project is on the right track. I'm hoping that I'll have the analysis done before my intended deadline (end of January), but we'll see how it goes.

I'm starting to flip-flop on the stay-at-home thing too - I've realized lately that there are aspects of my job that I really enjoy, and if I could find a job that focuses more on those areas then I could see myself wanting to work. Plus, and this may sound petty, but I like telling people what I do because most people are very interested in astronomy and they find what I do fascinating (even if I don't all the time).

I think what I do will be really dependent on where we end up moving in just over a year. I hope that we can move somewhere so that I'll at least have options, even if I choose not to work in the end.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

First Paper Submitted!!

As the title suggests, I have submitted my first paper of my PhD! I have to say, it’s pretty exciting, and I really enjoyed the writing process. It also means that one of my three projects is pretty much done!…

…but now I have to start on the next one. This scares me!! My goal is to have my thesis done and ready to hand to my examination committee on July 1st. That means that I should have pretty much everything done by the beginning of May so I can write up a draft of my thesis and go through a round or two of revisions with my supervisor. Do I have enough time? That’s only five months away!

I’m going to work on one project at a time, starting with the smaller one. I’m hoping to get the analysis done by the end of January so I can get a paper written and submitted by the end of February. That way I’ll have two papers, which means two chapters of my thesis, done.

That will give me March/April to do the analysis on the third, larger, project. We have decided that we won’t push to submit a paper on it before I defend. Instead, we’ll put it in paper form, and then after the defense I’ll work on it and submit.

Gah – even then that’s not a lot of time for the third project! Especially since I have to redo the reductions because the images were all erased in the summer :P A bonus is that it is similar to the data I’m dealing with for the smaller project, so I won’t have to start from square one, and the analysis is less involved. So, it shouldn’t take nearly as long (fingers crossed!).

At least, if things don’t go as planned, I have about six months to play with. DH’s contract for his post-doc is up February 2010, so we will be here until then for sure. That gives me extra time if I really need it, but I’m still going to aim to be done next summer because I just want this damn thing done! LOL I don’t want it to drag on anymore than it has too. Then, I can start really researching career options and be ready once I start looking for jobs when we know where we are going to move.

Alright – it sure sounds good in theory, doesn’t it?