seventhe: (Cats: I LIKE THEM)
Usually I lock the entries that have to do with UAkron, but I (finally) have something good to say about them, so I think I will let this one stand as one high (counter)point against my ongoing internet diatribe. :)

As some of you know: last week Friday during lab I was talking with the lab professor. She was telling me some things about the department, upcoming changes they're discussing, and we got to talking about the part-time program. She told me there was a meeting coming up discussing the Masters program and the part-time program, and we got to talking about its weaknesses and problems, and I think she could see how invested in this I am (spoiler: it's not hard to see), because she asked if I had any points, complaints, concerns, or comments -- she offered to bring them up in the meeting anonymously.

Oh, I said. Um. I have a list. I have documents I'm compiling.

She said, if you send me something, I will make sure it's heard, anonymously.

Now: I can't pass up something like that. You all know how hard I've been working, for years, and how hard I've been hoping to find someone who cared. So I went home thinking about it - and over the weekend decided that I didn't really want to dump my rant list on this professor.

And on Monday, when I sent her a note about the lab, she replied asking again for my thoughts and telling me that she would represent my concerns at this meeting.

So Monday night I stayed up, going through my old LJ entries (note to self: my journal did not actually import into DW like I thought it did; my tags and some icons did, but the entries didn't. As soon as LJ isn't dying of DDoS, fix this), which are all tagged for this very reason - reconstructing the hardest moments of my graduate school career. I was very careful with what I wrote. I selected only 4 or 5 main "concerns" or "topics", and when I addressed each problem, I also took the time to write constructive suggestions to help alleviate each area of concern I presented. I also was very careful with my tone, to remain straightforward and professional, to keep each concern clear, concise, and precise without dampening my concern. I removed any particular personal details - both to avoid the feeling that this was just a rant, and to keep my anonymity (many of the professors in question definitely would remember these incidents since I confronted them the first time).

I had two people read it over for me to ensure it was tactful, professional, and coherent. (I'm pretty sure both of them suggested things I had forgotten, that is how bad this program has been.) And then I sent it to her.

(If anyone wants to read it, I don't necessarily mind sharing it, although I will do so privately/locked.)

I also told her in the email that while I appreciated her offer of anonymity, I was more than willing to stand behind my words, and especially if the department wanted to talk with me further about suggestions for improvement - I would be more than happy to meet, discuss, brainstorm, and help in any way I could.

(Because frankly, my anonymity won't last for long. I would say I've had personal confrontations with about 75% of the professors I've had in this department. And I am all in on this.)

I was pleased enough to have found someone who was interested in what I had to say - someone who valued a part-timer's opinion, first and foremost, because that respect and acknowledgment has been ultrarare. But second - not only did she care about my opinion, she agreed with me on much of what we talked about.

And today I heard back from her. She thanked me for my commentary, and said that she really liked what I had written and while it ended up not being the appropriate meeting she has filed it away in her head for future use, because she thinks it's important: a really valid argument and a valuable angle which is being completely overlooked.

I hope I don't have to tell you how much I am smiling right now. After four years of wrestling, one small victory feels really, really awesome.

Thanks, M.
seventhe: (Tifa: bad)
Okay, so the good news is that last Friday was the last lab and since this lab is the last class in my Master's that means I'm done with classes, I will never have to take another class in this Master's again.

The bad news is that, of course, it isn't that easy. I still have 2 lab reports due this Friday, a review 22 April, and a final 29 April.

(Lab Final. I've had lab finals before in undergrad but this graduate lab was such a joke, I am really not sure what in seven hells they're going to be asking us.)

The even worse news is that while I started out with 98s on these lab reports, my grades have been slipping, and here's why: #1, I'm really just running out of shits to give, I am scraping the bottom of the barrel of fucks, my spoon drawer is completely empty. It's to be expected, after four months of 70-80 hour weeks (yeah, I did the math), I only wish I could have held on for another month.

But #2: these last few labs have not been helpful either. There have been a lot of labs where different groups in the class ran different catalyst amounts, or different times, so that we could analyze the data as a whole. However, that often meant we didn't get the data until, say, Monday before a lab is due on Friday. So instead of having 2 weeks to write each report, I have 2 weeks to write my intro and my background and then 4 days to write the meat of the analysis.

In addition to the extremely crunched timescale: the last few labs have been, uh, "creative" labs. Let's try something new labs. This isn't in your lab manual labs. So all we have to work off of is a 2-page handout (usually shitty, written by someone with no english skills and missing half the information, because who the fuck cares, right) without any of the questions or error analysis guidelines or anything else that helps us to write the report. We also don't usually get the whole thing until, yeah, the Monday before the lab is due. Plus, because they're "new" labs, they don't work. The last two experiments haven't really done what they were supposed to do, at all. So I'm struggling to do a full analysis on broken data using some idiot student's terrible instructions. Error analysis: this lab sucks and that's why it's wrong, there's your error analysis.

And even the ones in the manual have been so poorly written -- for example, on the last lab, I thought an example in the manual was part of the introduction section (there is always an introduction filling us in on the science involved in the experiment) and as it turns out it was an analysis we were supposed to do. Well, I didn't know that, because it doesn't say that in the manual. It doesn't, I'm not being a liar, I checked. However, because all the other (full-time) students are part of research groups who have this ladder in place, they all got to look at reports from last year, so they knew exactly what analysis to include.

For real: I've seen their reports come back with the complete wrong list of chemicals/materials, with giant circles saying "THIS IS FROM LAST YEAR, WE DID NOT USE THIS IN THIS YEAR'S LAB" so it's really obvious that they just copied last year's lab from someone -- and they get, what, -1. I omit a section because the manual doesn't tell me to do it, and I get -5, while everyone who copied that section gets the points. Is this fair?

So one of the reports I'm doing for this Friday is a makeup report, an optional one that will replace my lowest grade; I don't need to do it but I need to do it because once again, being a part-time student has ended up hurting my grades.

Like it always does.

So that's awesome. I can't even really celebrate being done with class because it isn't really "over" yet - plus there's that final - and I am so ready to just put my head down and not move for a month.
seventhe: (Cats: I LIKE THEM)
So I have *lab* this week and next week, and that's it.

I will still have 3 reports left (last week's, this week's, next week's), and there's some kind of lab final (????) 29 April, so the class isn't 'over' yet, but...

...the lab portion is actually almost over.

what the hell i don't even know what to do with myself

what am i going to do when i'm not working 70 hour weeks

seriously what
seventhe: (Internet)
Today:

  • I woke up late, which is surprising, and scrambled to get my lab printed out and things together and cats fed and on the road in the snow with enough food to last through until 6pm -- only to find when I got to campus that UAkron had closed for snow for the day.
    Now, when I went into my UAkron email folder, I did see the notice. But you know what? UAkron sends out emails like every day, I do not read them all, it is like the worst spam I cannot unsubscribe from. And I did not think the roads were that bad, I have driven through worse this season. I did not even think to look.
    So: no lab.

  • I went to the gym and ran 6.7 miles. Ran at about a 10:50/mile pace. I did feel like I could have gone faster, and I felt like I could have done more, but the goal is to stay healthy and uninjured so I kept the speed down and kept to my plan on mileage. It was a pretty good run overall. I need to work on getting my cadence faster; a lot of the stuff I'm reading talks about a cadence of ~180 (~90 per foot) and my cadence right now is like 79 (160). I need to take shorter strides to be more efficient. It's hard to train yourself to do that though.

  • I ate an entire Subway $5 Footlong and an entire box of vegetable lo mein. I have also drank like 20 glasses of water. Blaming the run, dude, blaming the run.

  • Tested out John Freida 3-Day Straight spray on my hair - it's supposed to be a semipermanent relaxer that makes your straightening last for three days. I look pretty fab, sitting here with my laptop gorging on lo mein and possibly in my pajamas.

  • I have been waiting to take my antibiotic, hoping that it will again make me pass out but this time maybe closer to bedtime? Yes, I am using this antibiotic as a sleeping pill, I think my body is officially broken as of right now.

  • I really don't feel like working. I'm staring at the lab data and feeling rather braindead. Today was kind of surreal in not having lab, really, it was like I didn't even know what to do with all this time. Like, is this how much time normal people have? I kind of boggled.

  • God I am still hungry. WTF.

AUUUUUUGH

Feb. 10th, 2011 10:10 pm
seventhe: (FFEX: Doink!)
23 PAGES AND I AM MF-ING DONE


THERE'S ONE QUESTION I TOTALLY JUST BLEW PAST. WHAT THE FUCK EVER.
seventhe: (FFEX: Doink!)
So the lab report I just completed was like an introduction to polymeric manipulation and finishing methods. It was a lot more qualitative than the other lab reports - we watched demonstrations and did small experiments, and we had to answer questions rather than produce analysis and calculations.

For a lot of the questions asked, we weren't given the material to answer them in class (big surprise) and thus had to look them up. And I won't lie: out of my 20 or so citations in this report, probably 12 of them are different Wikipedia pages.

It makes me feel very funny. I'm from an age where I grew up not having the internet at my fingertips for answers -- and even when I was in university, citing a website was a fringe-y sort of no-no, or "not unless you have to" type thing. (Yup: surprise, Dear Readers, I am old.)

Now, on this report, a lot of that is just not caring - I actually emailed the professor to ask where I could find some information I was having trouble googling, and her response was "Most, if not all, of the grad students here use Wikipedia. If you want better information you can try [books X and Y] in our science library." My first response was "Oh good, Wikipedia wasn't very informative"... and that was quickly followed by "Um, it's Monday; when the hell am I going to get to the science library to look this stuff up before Friday."

No wonder online sources - Wikipedia or others; I happen to love the Macrogalleria for polymer stuff; don't laugh, it's very informative - are so common nowadays. Who wants to trudge down to a library - or even into their (really messy) study and pile of used textbooks - and flip through pages of indexes and tables of contents and chapters to find the structure of cellulose acetate? When I can type it into Google and find it in seconds? And it counts -- they don't seem to care as long as you cite it properly, and I've got ACS format all over this guy. I am a citation and reference badass.

And it seems cool in a way, too, that there is so much information out there that can be easily found and I can spend 15 minutes reading up on birefringence and dichroism before I have to answer those sections -- and then I can move right on to poly(methyl methacrylate) without having to get up and find a totally different textbook.

It's just interesting to me, the concept that something like Wikipedia is ok as long as it's cited properly and labeled. I know some of you are librarian-types, so don't laugh at me for using Wikipedia, my prof totes said it was okay and I am a lazy lazy asshole.
seventhe: (Internet)
Draft #1 of the lab report is finished.

It is 16 pages long. None of that is data, or a long data table, or charts. It's all words.

There are 7 things left to complete. 5 questions I couldn't find answers to on the internets; 2 remaining parts of the report to write. All should be manageable by Friday.

Huge sigh of relief.

Go read the freaking FFDQ, it's funnier than I have been lately.
seventhe: Rydia (Rydia)
I have finally finished Part L of a lab report - basically a macrolab, which was made up of microlabs A-L. Each microlab had its own microreport, consisting of 2-5 questions, sometimes with multiple parts. I have probably already answered 60 questions and that's not including the ones I skipped because I couldn't easily find the information online or in a textbook.

14 pages, 3162 words.

This is ONE of the TWO reports that are due on Friday. We did two labs: one was this big macrolab and one was another "small" lab which didn't take too long but still requires its own report.

I spent almost all weekend working on this lab, minus one planned disruption for the Super Bowl and one unplanned thing that happened Saturday night. I actually took vacation today to work on the report.

I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to finish before Friday. I see now what they meant by "full time class load." The other students have 6 days a week to write these. I have 2, if I don't fuck up and spend time on things that aren't lab.

My options are basically miss more work or miss more sleep. :/

Oh, and I'm sick. I have a sore throat and no voice, and the sniffles.


I really don't know how I'm going to do this.
seventhe: (Internet)




Look, I don't want to do this lab report either, but you are Clearly Not Helping, Maerzen Oliver.
seventhe: (Fandom: Hell Bus)
midnight the day before it's due: 2 weeks, 12 pages, 2573 words, 4 tables and 2 charts, 5 independent error analyses and a bunch of google searches later, I am done with the first lab report.

The first one. The easiest one. The shortest one.

*tiniest celebration ever*

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