New (School) Year Resolutions

Where. Has. Summer. Gone? Courses start back up for me in just a few days and I’m not prepared. I’m excited that everyone is back in town and to meet the incoming first years, but seriously. Classes? Already?!

::deep breath:: … ::another deep breath::

Let’s do this.

I still get so excited about the start of the school year, even now going into the 22nd grade. I know, what a nerd, right? Thank you. But it’s a time for fresh starts, and I think we can all agree how nice that can be while in graduate school. Lots of people seem to be into making new year’s resolutions on January 1st, but that’s weird because everyone knows the year begins in August/September right? January 1 is for birthday brunches and paying attention to me! Now is for New (School) Year Resolutions. [Editor’s Note: Mer is so lucky because our college friends are always together on her birthday. So spoiled.]

I

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Very unhappy to be leaving Chicago and all the fun adventures there.

find that there’s generally a lull in August. This year that brief period of calm happened for me between the end of presenting at the Joint Statistical Conference on the 3rd and when class start on Monday. My research motivation is at a low, since I no longer have a big looming deadline, but my personal, overall motivational levels after a brief reprieve in Chicago are surging. I plan on using my time this weekend to relax but also to position myself to start off the semester well and get some major momentum going. That way, when I’m stalling mid-semester I can coast a bit.

Without further adieu, here are mine and Rachel’s resolutions for the start of the 2016-2017 academic year. Continue reading “New (School) Year Resolutions”

Grad School Blues

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Sometimes graduate school feels like diving into a lake on an early summer morning.  You know the cold will be shocking, but you feel confident that you’ll adjust.  You can’t quite see below the surface of the water, but you’re excited to submerge your head and open your eyes.  You swim out away from the shore.  It’s challenging.  And thrilling.  You’re testing yourself, and your body is responding. It’s downright joyful.

Sometimes, it’s like that dream you have just as you’re drifting off to sleep, where you feel like you’re falling.  You’re stomach and your heart are up in your throat.  You realize, on some level, that if you had the presence of mind to check, you’d probably actually be wearing a parachute.  But you can’t check, so you don’t.  And, in all likelihood, you’ll wake up with a gasp in your own bed, finding you aren’t falling at all, though you’ll still feel it in the pit of your stomach.  But you’ll go back to sleep, and when you wake up, you’ll probably think “Hey, I think I’d like a swim.”

********* Continue reading “Grad School Blues”

A Beginner’s Guide to Pokémon Collection in National Parks

Pokémon Go, made available for download in America on July 6, 2016 (and adding new countries every day!) enables collection, training, and battling of the first 150 Pokémon. Individual Pokémon collection and observation is now possible, and Pokémon trainers will be venturing into their communities and the wilds that surround them in record numbers as they strive to catch ‘em all. By virtue of collecting and learning about (albeit augmented, virtual) animals, people will also rediscover their attraction to the natural world. Through Pokémon Go, trainers will develop a keen eye for their surroundings, patience for tracking, quick thinking in anticipation of Pokémon behaviors.  And what better place for young and old alike to hone their PokéSkills but the expansive wilderness of America’s greatest natural treasure, the National Park system.

The iconic U.S. National Parks have provided access to both nature and natural sciences to visitors for 100 years. Combined annual attendance to these natural wonders registers at a whopping 305 million people each year, attracting visitors from all over the world. Our National Parks span the landscape of the United States and her territories, ranging from the remote reaches of Alaska to the bustling east coast parks, like Shenandoah-a quick drive from several major cities-and hop entire oceans to appear in far pacific lands like Hawaii, American Samoa, and Guam. Sometimes, these parks pack a hefty admission fee, up to $30 in some of the most famous parks. The fees go toward necessary maintenance and upkeep of the most pristine natural environments in the country, preserving the experience for the next generation of visitors. Don’t be scared by the entry fees; reasonably priced annual passes and special free events can make access extremely affordable!  In fact, I planned a trip to Shenandoah National Park this past weekend for both my sister and me as a respite from the rigors of academia. However, once we got the news dropped of the long-awaited Pokemon Go release, our plans quickly adapted to incorporate some Pokemon collecting into our adventure.

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A quick entrance photo at the North Entrance Gate PokéGym.

Continue reading “A Beginner’s Guide to Pokémon Collection in National Parks”