Saturday, November 4, 2017

all my heroes are little girls

Like this paragon of magnificent confidence (and glasses!):

Jessica, who loves everything about her life:
(I think I've linked to this before, it's still just as great 7+ years later)

And this supposed third grader, poet extraordinaire:

I mean: I am a rich pie strong with knowledge. I will not be eaten. 
I AM HERE FOR THIS. All hail our eight-year-old queen!

Friday, September 29, 2017

USDA certified lean!!!

Let's pretend I'm a successful lifestyle blog that posts weekly link roundups, instead of posting only when momentous life events happen, shall we?

Here we go!

Food you should make:

I have made this farro dish twice now, and it is SO good. It has so few ingredients that I was skeptical it was going to taste good, but it's really fantastic. The best part is, it's all cooked in one pan and is mostly hands-off. Worth buying farro for! (though I'm sure you could get this to work with another grain if you adjusted the water/cooking time)

This zucchini parmesan is also great.

Marbled banana bread is my new favorite banana bread. Apologies to my old favorite recipe from Cook's Illustrated, but you're just too much of a pain to make in comparison, and you're not half chocolate.

Song you should listen to:

The Man by The Killers  I can't get it out of my head.

Quote you should read:

“God bless the great question askers, the great seekers for righteousness, the great wanters of good things. I, your grandfather, don’t wish you some easy success. But I do wish for you to have wants that make you dress before dawn, or cross burning deserts, or wrestle with God until you get that good blessing. What an interesting life there is ahead for the wanters, not only here and now but a thousand worlds from here!"

found here, thanks to someone sharing in church recently

I'm looking forward to watching General Conference this weekend (okay how great were the talks at the women's session? I think I want to be Sharon Eubank) and attempting these chocolate tahini challah buns.

Whew, did I fit enough links to Smitten Kitchen in this post? Am I going to her book signing in less than 2 months? You can never have enough and YES. Happy FRIDAY YOU GUYS!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

katie is postdoc'ing

I've been a postdoc for two months now. A postdoc is someone who keeps doing research as a weird in between trainee and independent scientist for very little money considering the number of years you've spent in school. I work on a collaboration between three professors in bioengineering, chemical engineering, and radiology. I moved over two buildings from the chemistry building so my life has actually changed very little compared to being a grad student, other than the nagging despair of I'm never going to graduate is gone. Yay graduation! Graduation for everyone!

So far, here are the best perks of the job: 

1) I can check out library books for a full year. I currently have four books checked out that I don't have to return until 2018, which sounds a lot farther away than next year somehow. Granted, I had several books checked out for almost 5 years while a grad student because apparently there's no limit on the number of times you can renew them, but still. Now I don't have to renew as often! 

2) My university ID card says faculty! This is completely inaccurate but still cool to see. 

3) Health insurance + vision insurance + dental insurance! I got health insurance as a grad student (which was wonderful! go to grad school in the sciences, they'll pay you a stipend and give you insurance, all you have to do is work 60+ h/week) but no dental or vision. Now I can go to the dentist FOR FREE. Amazing.

4) I get to learn about a bunch of new fields, including fluid mechanics, microfluidic fabrication, ultrasound physics, photoacoustic physics (this is about light turning into sound, craaazy), mechanical properties of materials, and expression/purification of a new protein (oleosin! it comes from sunflowers). After 6 years of thinking about ferritin non-stop, it feels great to switch gears.

So, for now, I'll embrace this in between time and continue to enjoy the benefits of interlibrary loans. Maybe I'll even figure out what to do next. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

rug update

I got a rug [finally]!

It sort of looks like my coffee table is a meteor that dropped out of the sky and smashed into my living room floor, but I like it. I suppose it fits with the John Glenn portrait and rocket photograph on the wall. It's also way better sized for the room than the last rug was, and that in and of itself has been a major upgrade.

(sorry, crappy phone pic)

It is by far the craziest thing in my house, and it makes me happy every time I walk into the room. Can't ask for much more than that, now can you?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

i'm useless in an emergency, but i am a doctor


It's been almost two months since I defended my Ph.D., and I still get a thrill out of being called Dr. Pulsipher. I HAVE A DOCTORATE DEGREE. I can't get over it. Such a momentous occasion deserves an excruciatingly long blog post, so here you go!

My defense consisted of two parts: a public, hour-long presentation describing the research I've done over the course of grad school, followed by a closed-door questioning session with only my advisor and dissertation committee (three professors who are not my advisor) present. 

I was most nervous for my presentation, but not because I was worried it wouldn't be good enough to earn my degree. If your advisor lets you get to this point the degree is more or less guaranteed, barring some major display of incompetence on your part during your committee's examination afterward. The presentation is all about showing off what you've done and impressing people. It's a performance. And I was nervous I was going to let myself down. Six years of hard work only to culminate in a lackluster showing is not how I wanted things to end. I wanted to kill it.

So, I put all of my competitive ballroom training to work: practice, practice, practice. Chose an outfit strategically. Use pump up music effectively. Say lots of prayers.

My parents and youngest sister all flew in the night before. They were an immense help in the strategic outfit choosing and the pump up music playing. We dance partied to "Party in the USA" and "Run the World" both the night before and the morning of to get appropriately psyched up. Aaron was originally going to have to work the night before and then walk across the street to the chemistry building the morning of and try to stay awake during my presentation. But! He miraculously arranged to have the night off and surprised me by showing up at home at 10 pm, ready to sleep through the night and actually be awake for my defense. 

I was worried that no one beyond my family and lab group was going to show up that morning since it started at 8:45 am, but people came! Friends from other labs, friends from church, department staff, etc. were all there to be supportive. Staring at those friendly faces made it a lot easier to go through my presentation, even when the red color cut out of the projector completely and 75% of my slides were shades of barely distinguishable blue, yellow, and gray (so much for my carefully chosen jewel tone color scheme). I thanked lots of people at the end and managed to not trip over too many words. I also did not end by saying "in the name of Jesus Christ, amen," which I was nervous I was going to accidentally do. When I finished, the audience had questions, which is always a good sign after a presentation. I could answer all of them, with varying degrees of competence but with lots of faked confidence thanks to power blazer + very high heels.  

I think I killed it. 

I mean, there was way too much adrenaline running through my system to be at all objective, but I felt really great afterward. I said everything I wanted to say, and I said it about as clearly as I think I was capable. The questioning period with my committee was pretty short and more like a discussion than a grilling session. They asked me about the broader implications of my work (what are the disadvantages to this system? how practical would this be commercially?) and a few clarifying questions about some of the data in my presentation that I moved through more quickly. All of my forms got the necessary signatures and that was that: Dr. Pulsipher became reality. 

I know I didn't really blog much about grad school (other than complaining about it in passing), but it was long and difficult. The actual day to day work was not all that bad for me, I wasn't spending 14 hours a day in lab or staying until 2 am. But spending six years of your life working on a problem that's not particularly well-defined, that no one knows the answer to, and without any definitive end in sight is tough. I thrive on structure, rules, and clear expectations and grad school doesn't really have...any of those. It's also often difficult to convince yourself that what you are doing matters or will lead anywhere. Most of my experiments and mini-projects were failures (true for pretty much any scientist), and I still don't know why a lot of them failed! For six years, I ingrained skepticism and second guessed everything: is this a real result? Did this experiment not work because this is something new I've learned about the world, or did it not work because I screwed something up in the procedure? There is always something that you forgot to consider or something you should have been more rigorous about, and frankly, dealing with that for so long was exhausting. After my defense, I just wanted to lie on my living room floor and cry tears of relief for a week. (Instead, my lab group threw me a lunch party, my family and I went out to a nice dinner, and then I ran away to visit my sister in LA, which were all much less depressing.) 

In the end, it all worked out. I showed up every morning in lab and somehow all of those small, marginally progressive days added up to a Ph.D. If I can do that, lemme tell you, you can do anything. 

Love, the newly minted Dr. Pulsipher

Friday, April 28, 2017

the theme for tonight is LOUD

April 21st has come and gone, and now I'm a doctor!

At some point I will write up a lovely post about how meaningful this is to me and about all the wonderful people who have helped me get to this point in my life, but tonight is not that night.

Tonight is the night where I tell you never to fly Spirit Airlines, because it has led to me being trapped in LAX for 5 hours and experiencing the following:

a woman talking VERY loudly into her phone and standing bizarrely close to me in the security line, resulting in the sensation of someone yelling in my ear. I now know all about her recent job interview for some sort of early childcare position. IT WENT WELL.

while charging my phone, getting stuck sitting between a woman watching a tv show on her phone full volume without headphones, and a woman with smelly bare feet

purchasing and then opening a recently shaken bottle of sparkling water, which is now all over my pants

Right now neon yellow-vested men are dismantling the chairs in the area where I'm sitting, so I should probably wrap this up and find another miserable corner to continue debating whether this delayed flight warrants paying for a month of Hulu so I can distract myself by watching "The Handmaid's Tale." Wish me luck.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

so this is happening


Dr. Pulsipher, coming at you April 21st, 2017. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

did you need to watch something pretty right now?

I've got just the thing:


After I watched this, I looked up the song and then listened to it four times in a row. What can I say, when I find something I like, I COMMIT.

(It's To Build a Home by the Cinematic Orchestra.)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

what if their story were my story?

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Matthew 25:42-45

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

books of 2016

Inspired by Kylie and my Goodreads yearly summary, I present to you a list of all the books I read in 2016. Looking over these titles makes me so happy; there are a lot of winners here. (It took some serious self-control not to add a little note about each book and what I liked about it and now I'm realizing I should probably just write reviews on Goodreads after I read books like a normal person.)

Non-Fiction:
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Camon
Death on Earth: Adventures in Evolution and Mortality by Jules Howard
You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice by Tom Vanderbilt
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

General Fiction:
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner (re-read for book club)
Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom

I Couldn't Stop Thinking About:
A Short Stay in Hell by Steven Peck
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
Maus by Art Spiegelman
Maus II by Art Spiegelman

Technically for Kids But I Still Read Them:
Wonder by R. J. Palacio 
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (re-read for book club)
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (re-read on New Year's Eve so I could make my 30 book goal)

Two Fantasy/Sci-Fi Series You Must Read:
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Golden Son by Pierce Brown
Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Were You Wondering Am I Still Obsessed With Brandon Sanderson? Yes I Am:
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
Mistborn Secret History by Brandon Sanderson
The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson

The Worst Book I Read This Year/Do Not Read:
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Out of all of those books, my favorite by far was The Name of the Wind, followed closely by the second book in the series The Wise Man's Fear. They're beautifully written and extremely entertaining. I also have to say that Wonder is a delightful gem of a book, and I would highly recommend it, too.

BONUS Favorite Movie of 2016:
"Arrival"
YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE. It is incredible. It's thought-provoking and life-affirming and it made me cry like 3 times because life is so beautiful, you guys. I can't stop thinking about it.

Back to books. I made a goal to read 36 books this year, which means 3 books per month. I'm going to need a lot more book ideas to make that happen. What was the best thing you read in 2016?

Monday, January 9, 2017

still not my president

My anger has subsided to a slow burn that mostly only flares up whenever I read Donald Trump's Twitter feed. I have unfollowed him so as not to ruin my life. Here are some other things I've done that have made me feel, if not better, at least a little more in control:

I subscribed to the New York Times and have been basking in the luxury of reading as many articles as I want instead of counting down my 10 free ones per month (their student rate is only $4/month-so worth it).

I called the Justice Department's comment line and left a message expressing my concern about Russia's interference in the election. You can too: 202-353-1555.

I also called my senators and expressed my concerns about the incomplete vetting of cabinet nominees that are supposed to have hearings this week. Why is this even controversial, guys?

I officially changed my party affiliation to Democrat, something I never thought I would do, but here we are! Welcome to the hellscape that is a Trump presidency! I have been utterly disgusted by the lack of moral backbone or any semblance of putting country before party/personal gain from the majority of Republican leadership (exception: Mitt Romney, whom I will probably always love) and couldn't stand being a registered Republican anymore. I do like voting in primary elections, though, so if I can't be a Republican, I might as well get to vote in Democratic primaries. So hi, here I am, definitely on the conservative side of the political spectrum, and yet now a Democrat. THIS IS FUN.

The best feeling I've had since November 10th, though, was Christmas shopping for kids whose parents can't afford it for this program. There is not a lot I can do about Trump rapidly dismantling America. There is not a lot I can do about children dying every day in Aleppo. But I can buy a dang Barbie for a little girl's Christmas in the Philly area and that feels pretty good.

Any more ideas on how to resist the Trump ugliness? I'd love to hear them.