Monday, March 14, 2011

Well, I've been here before

I had a blog before--during 2008 when I lived in Switzerland.  My life seemed very interesting at the time.  I packed up my belongings and flew off to a foreign land for an indeterminate amount of time.  There was so much new there.  New food to eat, new words to learn, new ways to embarrass myself in public and all of it ripe for blogging.  Then, I moved back to the States, went back to Grad school and decided that being a grad student just wasn't interesting enough to read about.  Actually, the truth was I just wasn't interested enough to write about it.

Figure 1.  My Life
I suppose that grad school may be like a long distance hike.  From what I've gleaned from volumes and volumes of Appalachian Trail through hike logs (check out the Resources section for the books I'm talking about) and daily posts over at Whiteblaze, a lot of folks don't really know what they're getting into when they start out from Springer or Katahdin.  There's thinking about something, and then there's the actual doing of it.  Everyone who finishes a thru hike was once a beginner with maybe a few years of backpacking under their belt at best.  Everyone who finishes graduate school was once just an undergrad with a few credits of lab class and klunky pipetting hands.  Whether that's mountains or endless days of bench-jockeying it's impossible to really know what you're in for before you go.  Actually, the drop-out rates for grad students and thru hikers is roughly the same, about 20% for Life Sciencers (such as myself) and thru hikers between Springer and Neels Gap. 

Of course I had high hopes for graduate school.  I was going to FIGURE STUFF OUT.  I was going to be really good at science.  Turns out, it's less rewarding and exciting than that.

My days lately are an endless blur of impossibly tiny volumes (think 1,000x smaller than a drop) and impossibly tiny tubes.  I spend about 9 hours a day moving tiny drops into tiny tubes, ad nausaem.  I put the tiny tubes into tiny machines and wait a few hours before retrieving them, transferring tiny drops into other tiny machines to see if the magic cartoon strip of molecular genetics I have running through my head was correct, maybe.  See, that may or may not be interesting for general consumption.  But then, there are days when things work. When the results from the tiny machines is unequivocal.  At times like these, I forget the weeks and months and late nights of frustration and cramped thumbs.  

I guess the AT is probably kind of like that.  Judging from the time-lapse video I posted earlier, and from pretty much what everyone says, I think it would be safe to conclude that the AT can be monotonous.  The AT has can also be unpredictable and stressful:  BEAR!  LIGHTENING!  COLD!  But after the long climbs, or snow storms or bear encounters it is also beautiful. 

So, maybe graduate school isn't terribly exciting to write about, but you should see my daydreams...

Figure 2.  Doesn't this look better?  Near Gooch Gap Shelter
Today will be day two, landing us somewhere Gooch and Woods Hole shelters.  The weather in Suches today:  High of 65 low of 45 with 100% chance of thunder storms overnight. 

No comments:

Post a Comment