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"Everybody sees what you appear to be, but few feel what you are."

Machiavelli,
The Prince

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Saturday, July 31, 2004
I bought a sofa bed for my new apartment today. I went into three furniture stores this morning looking for a simple, neutral-colored couch, but ended up getting a red one instead. It was the first one I saw and I just fell in love with it. This is the first purchase Iíve made for my new apartment so I guess Iíll be decorating around it. Unfortunately it was a special order so the sofa wonít be delivered for eight weeks. Until then Iíll have to find something else to sit on. For the rest of this weekend, however, I am going to be sitting on my bed reading the latest chapter of my favorite Harry Potter fan fiction. It was posted today after a five-month hiatus during which I should have re-read the last chapter. While Iím sitting maybe Iíll do that as well.
Posted at 10:21 PM, 0 Comments

Thursday, July 29, 2004
I just got home from the lab, fourteen and a half hours after leaving this morning. Good night.
Posted at 10:05 PM, 0 Comments

With everything that's been going on in my life lately I've had trouble keeping up with all of my responsibilities. Up until now I've been using the ďworry about it laterĒ strategy when I don't have time to think about something at the moment. Not a good idea. While it does cut down on the number of things Iím worried about at the present I end up in trouble for forgetting something later. So from now on Iím going to try ďworry about it nowĒ instead. If I put off thinking about something until later I probably wonít think about it at all. That's why I'm still in the lab, even after spending twelve hours here already, compiling data for tomorrowís research group meeting. If I go home it wonít get done, despite my best intentions, and Iíll be frantic about it tomorrow. This way Iím just frantic now. It doesn't help that the wafer I was testing today broke halfway through an experiment either. I'll have to try another one tomorrow.
Posted at 7:44 PM, 0 Comments

Wednesday, July 28, 2004
My research took a giant step backwards today. During the meeting with my advisor this morning she decided that low temperature experiments are necessary once again. Apparently the data I already have isnít compelling enough to rule them out. Iím not sure if I succeeded in keeping a straight face when she told me this, but what I really wanted to do was scream. And things were just starting to look up. At this point Iíll have to abandon my goal of collecting all of my experimental data this week. If Iím lucky I can finish that up next week. When I got back to my lab after the meeting I was so distressed that I couldnít think straight. I couldnít concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes. The circumstances of the meeting prevented me from running any tests today and that added to my frustration. I expected to have another set of data completed today, but after only getting a few little things done in the lab I came home. The good news is that I am going to get paid for my work this summer. Up until now Iíve been unemployed because money for my research was scarce, but now Iím going to be a full time RA again. Thatíll help me out a lot. Even more than my experiment exploding would.
Posted at 6:46 PM, 0 Comments

Tuesday, July 27, 2004
The decision of whether to go to the lab or go shopping for my apartment this morning was made for me when I woke up late. If I was going to work today I needed to be in the nanolab before 8 AM to avoid the crowds, but I didnít wake up until 9 AM so that wasnít an option. So I went shopping. Apparently the item of clothing that every girl must have this year is a pink corduroy blazer. I discovered this after buying a khaki one at the Gap and then seeing similar ones at Old Navy and American Eagle. The only thing I actually bought for my apartment is a Dale Tiffany floor lamp that was on sale. Dan teased me about this purchase because I already own so many lamps, but my new place does have two rooms to light instead of one. So after abandoning my research for most of the day I am now faced with all of the work I have to do before I go to bed. I have a meeting with my advisor in the morning and I need to be prepared. Sleep is overrated.
Posted at 11:33 PM, 0 Comments

Monday, July 26, 2004
During the twelve hours I spent in the lab today I gathered an entire set of experimental data (quite an accomplishment), finished reading Chamber of Secrets (no more Harry Potter until the release of Half Blood Prince), and discovered the Suicide Stapler. The ďbloodĒ stains told me that someone must have used it to end their graduate studies without having to write a thesis. Thatís something I can understand. My main goal for the week is to finish collecting all of the data I need for my thesis so I can start writing the bulk of it. Since the Suicide Stapler wasnít loaded I resigned myself to actually completing the thing. If I have a few more days this week that are as productive as today I think I can attain my goal and being the writing process. Weíll see how it goes.

The Suicide Stapler with its telltale blood stains The Suicide Stapler proving that it's a stapler
Posted at 11:31 PM, 0 Comments

Sunday, July 25, 2004
The last thing Westwood Village needs is another drug store, but this evening I went into the new CVS Pharmacy that opened this weekend to pick up shave gel and hand soap. Visiting the third Westwood pharmacy within four blocks was not my only accomplishment today, however. I dropped off a bunch of stuff at Goodwill, bought a new TV at Best Buy (using a 10% off coupon), and ordered two Christmas presents. Iíd be happier if only the list of things I need to do this week werenít so long. Tonight Iím going to try to forget about the list and get some sleep. With the way my research is going I definitely wonít get enough during the rest of the week. In other news, I was excited to discover that the title of Star Wars Episode III will be ďRevenge of the Sith.Ē Awesome. Letís just hope that the movie is as good as the title.
Posted at 9:46 PM, 0 Comments

Saturday, July 24, 2004
I am being forced to give up a three year-old pair of jeans against my will. I managed to sit on an ink pen the other day and stain remover didnít take the spot out. Itís probably time to pull those jeans from my regular rotation since they are so old, but I can still wear them to the lab. No one cares about my outfit there. At least this gives me an excuse to go shopping for some new jeans. This is going to be a busy weekend.
Posted at 10:06 AM, 0 Comments

Friday, July 23, 2004
The theme for today is "cannibalizing electronics." I'm considering using it for the title of my thesis. People might actually read it if itís called something great like that. Dr. Smith used the phrase today to describe disassembling old equipment for its parts. While I thought it was rather resourceful he didnít seem to appreciate it. The neglected twenty year-old research instruments get more respect than anything thatís still in use today. Or the students.
Posted at 9:23 PM, 0 Comments

Every night this week I've told myself that I need to go to bed early. And every night this week I've failed to do so. Things come up and I end up only getting a few hours of sleep. In the morning I need to be in the nanolab as early as possible so I can get my work done when it's not crowded in there. Considering I just finished what I needed to get done tonight I might as well not go to sleep at all. I'll catch up this weekend.
Posted at 1:33 AM, 0 Comments

Thursday, July 22, 2004
Switching topics to something more frivolous, Iím currently reading Chamber of Secrets, looking for anything that might give away the identity of the Half Blood Prince. With all of the rumors, I suspect thereís a clue in there but the trick will be catching it. For many reasons, however, Iíve made a pact not to read any more Harry Potter until book 6 comes out. After I finish Chamber of Secrets, of course. There are several reasons for this pact. First, I have been reading the books completely out of order (Prisoner of Azkaban, then Order of the Phoenix, and then Chamber of Secrets) and Iím getting confused. I keep forgetting what age Harry is in whatever book I am currently reading. Second, I own far too many unread books to keep picking up another Harry Potter volume as soon as I finish one. So far I have identified nine books that are coming out this fall that I canít wait to read and I donít want them to sit on my shelf gathering dust while I read Harry Potter instead. Third, I need to live more in my own reality rather than the fantasy world of wizards. My last several posts seem to suggest that I am completely immersed in reality, but thatís just not the case. I daydream whenever I get the chance. Maybe my webpage would be more interesting if I wrote about that more often.
Posted at 9:12 PM, 0 Comments

ďThese TCD readings correspond to discharge coefficients that are greater than one for the orifice size indicated. Since this is not physically possible, the orifice is probably larger than first measured. If that is not the case the wafer must have a crack in it and this data cannot be used. Bummer.Ē
Lauren explaining bad data in her lab notebook


I realize that Iíve written too much about my research here lately, but I couldnít resist posting that quote from my lab notebook. Usually Iíll write a couple of sentences in it to explain the current dayís results, whether they are good or bad, but I donít bother making them sound formal or technical. After writing about todayís disastrous tests I figured Iíd put my own opinion into the explanation, rather than just the facts. Hence the ďbummer.Ē In contrast to yesterday, today I spent 9 hours in the lab and Iím not sure I got any useful data. Maybe tomorrow will be better. If it isnít Iím not going to have a very pleasant research group meeting.
Posted at 5:27 PM, 0 Comments

Wednesday, July 21, 2004
ďIím not sure Iíd trust a computer to run my experiments either. My tests are almost entirely manual. If there are problems, I know Iím the one that screwed up. I guess thatís comforting.Ē
Lauren discussing automated research


Today I exercised my hard-earned privilege of not doing any more low temperature tests. That freedom allowed me to gather an entire set of data for one orifice in 11 hours. In retrospect this doesnít seem like such a short time, but before last Friday that would have only been half of a full set of data. I consider this an improvement considering it used to take a week to collect a full set of data (including low temperature tests). Believe it or not, I think I am going to have more than enough time to gather all of the data I need for my thesis before I have to move out of my Westwood apartment. I made more progress in my research in the past two weeks than I did in the previous year and a half. I canít decide if that is comforting or not.
Posted at 8:53 PM, 0 Comments

Tuesday, July 20, 2004
As far as my research is concerned, itís been another unproductive day. But I did drop off the deposit for my new apartment and pick up the keys today. Iíll start moving some of my stuff there this weekend. The real estate agent and I went over there this morning and I measured the dimensions of the rooms to figure out what furniture and appliances to purchase. Iíll do that this weekend too. My lease doesnít start until August 1, but I can start furnishing the apartment before I actually move in. I know itís going to cost a lot, but itís going to be fun to put it all together. Speaking of apartments, I got a letter in the mail today stating that my request to extend my lease was denied. This didnít come as a surprise considering the building manager told me the same thing over a week ago. It seems the owner figured I needed this decision in writing, though. I guess being thisclose to having a Masterís degree in aerospace engineering isnít sufficient to understand the word ďno.Ē
Posted at 8:09 PM, 0 Comments

Monday, July 19, 2004
The Braves are in first place in their division for the first time in awhile. If only I had gotten some work done in my lab today this would have been a great day. At this point it's been a good day, but I'll take that in comparison to the stressful ones I've had all summer. Things are looking up.
Posted at 10:50 PM, 0 Comments

I GOT THE APARTMENT!! Somehow that makes the sunburn and blisters I acquired yesterday while walking around Seal Beach worth it. Tomorrow I'm going to drop off the security deposit and pick up the keys so I can start moving my stuff immediately. My first order of business after that will be buying a sofa, a refrigerator, and a new bed. I have been imagining how I was going to decorate the apartment since I saw it yesterday and now I can make definite plans. Iíve pulled out my old Pottery Barn and Ikea catalogs to get some ideas. I am so happy!
Posted at 4:15 PM, 0 Comments

I'm still waiting to hear about the apartment. I'm in my research lab and I wish I had something to take my mind off my nerves, but I can't run any tests until the equipment warms up for several hours. I just hope that when my cell phone rings I get good news.
Posted at 10:02 AM, 0 Comments

Sunday, July 18, 2004
After almost three hours of walking around Seal Beach I put in an application for an apartment today. Thereís no guarantee that Iím going to get it so Iíve got my fingers crossed because itís a great place. Itís a one-bedroom with a garage thatís two blocks from the beach and one block from Main Street. Iíll find out tomorrow one way or the other. If I donít get this apartment Iíll have to go look for another one sometime early this week. My last day in my current apartment is August 13 and Iíll need some time to move before then. I am extremely nervous because Ií running out of time to find another place to live and I really like this apartment. Could I ask for anyone who reads this page to please cross your fingers for me too? Iíd really appreciate it. Iíll let you know what happened tomorrow.
Posted at 6:59 PM, 0 Comments

Friday, July 16, 2004
I was on a high after my research group meeting today. It was probably the first time that I walked out of one of those feeling happy. When I sat down after my presentation I couldnít believe my good fortune. I have spent the past year and a half struggling to eliminate the one dominant problem with my experiment and I have yet to succeed in doing so. Today, however, after looking at all of my data from this week my advisors and I came to the conclusion that there is a way around it instead. We determined that I donít have to do any more low temperature tests. I cannot overemphasize the significance of this conclusion. No more complicated test setups, dry ice burns, or worries about dangerous hydrogen leakage. With this newfound freedom from low temperature experiments my research should move along much faster and Iíll have data to put in my thesis in no time. This is the best way to begin a weekend.
Posted at 10:24 PM, 0 Comments

Thursday, July 15, 2004
Yesterday there were about twenty people in clean room jumpsuits standing outside the Engineering IV building. Under different circumstances this might have been a funny sight, but considering it was because of a reported toxic gas leak it wasnít so humorous. A pile of suits, gloves, masks, hair nets, and shoe covers formed near the door because that were no longer ďcleanĒ when their wearers ran out of the nanolab when they heard the alarm. The bunker where the toxic gases are stored is directly across from my lab, but fortunately my new research assistant and I werenít there when the alarm went off. We ended up standing around outside for only about a half hour while the situation was resolved, which probably indicated that it was just a false alarm. When we were allowed to go back inside my hopes of my experiment getting blown up were dashed. That would have really helped me out.
Posted at 9:38 PM, 0 Comments

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Dan and me at the Buccaneer Bay restaurant, Treasure Island, Las Vegas
Posted at 10:38 PM, 0 Comments

Now itís time for the disappointments:
1) Yesterday was a waste in the lab because the guys in the machine shop didnít get the repairs done I requested on Friday. In the morning I told the manager that I needed the work done as soon as possible because without half of the wafer holder my research is stalled, but when I went back at 3 PM to check on their progress the door was bolted shut. I guess thatís a bad sign.
2) Today Iím still waiting for the wafer holder to be finished. Apparently itís being worked on right now, but I have my doubts. Maybe when I go back after lunch to check on it the door will be bolted shut again.
3) I asked for a one-month extension on my lease in order to give me more time to work on my experiments and thesis without commuting, but the complex owner said no. So I still have to move out one month from today. This is going to cause me so many problems. I need to go get some boxes and start packing. And find another apartment.
4) Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water tastes disgusting. For some reason the only bottled water I can stand is Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water, but the engineering student store was out of it this morning. And I canít drink the water out of water fountain because the metallic flavor is overpowering.
Posted at 12:43 PM, 0 Comments

Monday, July 12, 2004
All right, enough with the quotes and short updates already. I couldnít resist that last one though. I love T3. But Iíve been very busy these past few days and I finally have something to write about from my own life thatís not depressing. On Thursday I had a job interview at Boeing in Seal Beach and it went extremely well. This was the fourth interview Iíve been on and definitely the best. While I donít know much about it yet, due to its classified nature, the work sounds interesting and I liked the people that I met with. At this point I am leaning heavily towards taking the job when itís been officially offered, but thereís a lot of paperwork that needs to be done first. I found three pennies on the ground during the interview, which actually took place at Rubyís on the Seal Beach pier, so hopefully thatís a sign that I will be employed soon.

Iíll skip past the disappointments that I encountered in my lab during the rest of the week to stick with discussing positive stuff. On Friday afternoon I flew to Las Vegas to meet Dan and his family, who had been there since Wednesday. The trip was a nice break from the turmoil of my research and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. A surprise birthday party was planned for one of Danís family members and everyone had an alias involving the word ďcakeĒ to go along with the plan. I was ďSpice CakeĒ with a hat (see pictures 1,2,3) and t-shirt informing everyone of that fact. While we were all dressed alike I blended in with the rest of Danís family for the first time. Iíll have to go into detail on the whole weekend later, but it was a lot of fun despite the fact that it was about 110 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I got to wear my miniskirts and shorts so at least the heat was good for something.
Posted at 3:51 PM, 0 Comments

Thursday, July 08, 2004
"Next time bring a clue, not a paintball gun."
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Posted at 11:38 PM, 0 Comments

It's another one of those days where I dread checking my UCLA email.
Posted at 10:09 AM, 0 Comments

Wednesday, July 07, 2004
I didnít think it was possible but this day just got worse. Not even reading Order of the Phoenix is making me feel better. So much for the ďhumorous quoteĒ I posted earlier to lighten the mood.
Posted at 11:25 PM, 0 Comments

"Restore the monarchy, get rid of Fudge and whatever system of government is currently in power. And then he and Harry can get on with the serious business of postponing evil."
Comment regarding HBP posted on The Leaky Cauldron on 06.29.04
Posted at 9:26 PM, 0 Comments

I don't think I've ever had worse luck in the lab. I realize that, with all of the dreadful statements I've made about my research, this one is hard to believe, but I think I can provide proof to back it up. In the last ten and a half hours Iíve broken three things, one screw and two wafers. The screw was over-tightened and just came apart in two pieces. So I replaced it. The first wafer had to be removed from the holder in about a dozen pieces. So I replaced it. Unfortunately its substitute suffered the same fate. And those were my only two (extraordinarily important) blank wafers. My only accomplishment for the day was successfully cleaning two wafers in the nanolab this morning, but since they were the ones I used today that doesnít do me a bit of good. I wish I had another humorous quote to post instead of this news, but that just isn't the case. Maybe Iíll find one later while reading Order of the Phoenix. But for now I'm going home to feel sorry for myself and watch feel-good movies. Like "The Santa Clause" or "Terminator 3." Something like that.
Posted at 5:26 PM, 0 Comments

Tuesday, July 06, 2004
ĒThe problem with reading a good story is that you get drawn in by it. The more you read the more you want to keep reading. When I came home from the lab this afternoon I picked up Order of the Phoenix and had to tear myself away after two hours. I was immersing myself in the fictional world in order to escape from my own where Iím facing a mountain of homework.Ē Todayís story is very similar to the one I told in my 11.24.03 webpage update except that I am looking at a Masterís thesis instead of homework. I made a small amount of progress in the lab today, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. Iíll probably just read Harry Potter for the rest of the evening.

ď ĎHa, ha! Yes, Mark Evans is back, suckers, and he's the key to everything! He's the Half Blood Prince, he's Harry's Great-Aunt, he's the Heir of Gryffindor, he lives up the Pillar of Storge and he owns the Mystic Kettle of Nackledirk!í (Possible title of book seven there, must make a note of it).Ē Speaking of Harry Potter, this quote was taken from todayís post on JKRís website. She ended the speculation regarding a ďnobodyĒ character from Order of the Phoenix with an intriguing last name. Weíll have to look elsewhere for the Half Blood Prince.
Posted at 9:35 PM, 0 Comments

"Harry wanted to stamp on Ron's foot, but that sort of thing was much harder to bring off unnoticed when you were wearing jeans rather than robes."
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Posted at 10:53 AM, 0 Comments

Saturday, July 03, 2004
ĒYour luckís bound to change.Ē
Dr. Owen Smith, combustion group meeting, 07.02.04
Posted at 1:20 PM, 0 Comments

Friday, July 02, 2004
It seems I have another interview at Boeing. This is in addition to follow-up interviews with two of the groups I met with previously. None of these have been scheduled yet and my work schedule is busy as it is. The summer has just started and I feel as anxious as if itís the end of the quarter again. I just hope that the anxiety of these interviews will lead to a job offer soon because then Iíll have one less thing to worry about. Shortening that list is always positive, even though I just move on to worrying about the next item.

Thanks to the engineering graduate student experience, and the experimental (rather than computational) nature of my research, I feel like a kid in a candy store when digging through a box of fittings. The best part is finding exactly what that Iím looking for without resorting to asking someone in the tool crib for it. Those guys can be rather condescending when you donít know what youíre talking about. Today I dug through several drawers to find the right ferrule and nut to replace the ones removed from the wafer holder when it was repaired. I found the hardware pretty quickly, but things are never that easy with my research. But thatís another story.
Posted at 10:55 PM, 0 Comments

Thursday, July 01, 2004
I start writing a lot of my webpage updates while walking home from my lab. My mind is always racing with things Iíve done during the day, things I still need to do, and things Iíd rather not think about but do anyway. What better way to fuel the creative process? I usually construct the first sentence of an update in my head and then elaborate on it in writing when I get home. Thatís as long as Iím not too stressed about my research. Hereís what I came up with today (sentences in italics were composed on my way home from campus).

The meeting with my advisor went well today, but now I have a dilemma. According to the schedule she drew up, I am supposed to have a draft of my thesis completed by July 16. Thatís in two weeks. At the moment the wafer holder is in the machine shop for repairs (the silver solder finally failed under pressure) so I have the time to start writing my thesis, but Iím not sure I have the mental fortitude. This deadline is only five hours old and itís already causing me stress.

I am just two months away from finishing my Masterís Degree at UCLA and this afternoon I bought three t-shirts at the student store. I am in need of new clothes, but mostly khakis and blouses that I can wear to work (when I get a job) rather than more jeans and t-shirts. Not that a girl can have too many pairs of jeans. Since classes ended a couple of weeks ago Iíve been wearing my old UF shirts to work in the lab and they are looking pretty ragged after seven years. Knowing that I will still wear them long after I graduate, and that in six weeks I wonít be living a few blocks from campus anymore, I took the opportunity to buy UCLA shirts while I still have the chance.
Posted at 9:43 PM, 0 Comments

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