I've been acclimating to my
first week of grad school classes with great rejoicing for the amount of
reading that needs to be done. No, that wasn't sarcasm. I'm thrilled
to be in an arena where my massive text-consumption abilities are truly
directly useful rather than an incidentally helpful sidenote, and I
actually enjoy reading (good) scholarly papers and books -- including
textbooks -- and having assigned reading from things like Educational Research: planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research is like looking up and finding that I've stepped into a little heaven.

In preparation for my new academic life, Jason Aubrey referred me to the Microcosmographia Academica,
a lovely (if rather stuffy and outdated in places, notably with gender
roles) little piece of satire on academic politics done in old-fashioned
style. It's only 15 pages long, but had me cracking up. It's the
19th-century version of Piled Higher and Deeper.

the Syndicate is so stupefied that it has quite forgotten what it is
sitting on, it issues three minority reports, of enormous bulk, on some
different subject. The reports are referred by the Council to the
Non-placets, and by the Non-placets to the wastepaper basket. This is
called 'reforming the University from within.'

I've also been working on cost-tracking and paring down into a minimal life that's rich in the things I care about. Food is one. I've been looking at cheap, healthy, and tasty recipes, loving my Mark Bittman cookbook, and slowly reacquiring the habit of batch-cooking; a pot of beans, a pot of steel-cut oats, and a cooker of rice each week give plenty of dietary flexibility with soups/flavors/vegetables added spontaneously, which is the way I prefer to cook. Another realization: my eating habits are considerably different when I'm alone. For instance, my boyfriend is a carnivore with a distinctly Western palate, while I love tofu fried with so many chilies that it makes me cry. I have, however, discovered that red cabbage stewed with apples in vinegar are delicious, and that milchreis is a lunch, despite its suspicious resemblance to champorado, which is most definitely a breakfast food.

There are a lot of notes I want to write up tomorrow, which is my "Mel recovers from her first week and steps into a rhythm that will let her handle everything that's going on" day (since I now know what I'm facing in terms of workload and schedule for the term). What's coming?

  • I spent Tuesday evening in art class molding tiny robots from cornstarch-based bioplastic (and, like a good engineer, testing the effects of several variables on the process). The robots have now air-dried and set, so final photographs and writeups can be done; initial photographs look promisingly nifty (read: cute).
  • More copyright adventures! Wherein Mel discovers that one of her university librarians is actually also a copyright lawyer, attempts to decipher yet more legalese (but this time, helpful legalese), and begins investigating the formation of an open access repository focused on teaching open source (scope uncertain; need to learn more about open access repositories and find out more about what's out there first).
  • A recap of my first week of engineering education (ENE) classes, as per requests from some of my old Olin friends with interest in the field.

I also have a backlog of POSSE work, a paper to write for SIGCSE (or rather, a paper to transcribe from two notebooks, since I've been writing it during my bus commutes this week), and some press inquiries to get back to folks on. Whoo boy. Oh, and a talk to prep for Ohio LinuxFest.

Life is good -- I'm learning again, and that's always a wonderful feeling.