Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 1

Although I'm not getting all neo-paleo like Tam with my diet, I did re-start my old wheat- and corn-free diet today.  I've been feeling sick a lot lately, and since I know that my digestive system isn't happy with these foods, and these foods (grains in general) are pretty much not that great anyway, I thought it was worth trying to go without them for a while and see if I improve.  Although there are a lot of limits to self-experimentation (and my approach is obviously confounded), I don't really care.  I'd just like to feel better and I'd happily give up these foods to do it.  I was wheat-, corn-, yeast-, and lactose-free for two years during college (which was NOT an easy environment for weird food restrictions), so it shouldn't be too hard to do.  With rice and oats still on the table (so to speak), I won't have to make too many changes to my diet, I don't think.  We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Head?

I have just now emailed my professors my discussion questions/reactions based on the papers for this coming week's classes.  They are due on Sunday night and Tuesday night.  It feels weird and awesome to be a little bit ahead on that (as well as already having finished my research proposal for the third seminar over a week in advance, though I still need to develop my presentation for the class). 

Tomorrow's big job - get my stimuli prepared for my (second) experiment I'm running later this semester.  (By stimuli, I simply mean the materials that the participants are going to look at and react to.)  It seems very straightforward in my mind what I want to do, but as Robert could attest after talking to me about it for a couple hours this afternoon, it's turning out to be very confusing and tricky when I sit down to actually write the damn things.  It's like I know I want to do X and Y, but it's really surprisingly challenging to figure out how to do both of those things at the same time, while worrying about this possible Z confound in the back of my head.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Roast 'Em

Now that the temperatures are more like autumn than summer, it's vegetable roasting season!  Today I made this lovely salad--I roasted half a can of chickpeas and a red bell pepper in olive oil for 20 minutes at 425 degrees, served over 2 cups of raw baby spinach with about 1/2 T. of balsamic vinegar and salt/pepper to taste.  Delicious.  (I ate it with a cold hamburger patty on the side.)

Right now I'm roasting a bell pepper and a handful of baby carrots for a snack.  It has yet to be determined whether it is even possible for me to get tired of roasted vegetables, but I'm thrilled to discover that roasted chickpeas are amazing in texture and flavor and a way to liven things up.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Neuro Word Cloud

Apparently I never did make a word cloud for my neuroscience paper last year.  So here it is.  All about food and rats, it seems.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One Thing Done

Yay, I have just now finished my research proposal that is due in the last half of October.  Next I need to produce a brief presentation for class.  Here's what the proposed study is about.  (Note that the words "depletion" and "monkeys" do not appear in this proposal!)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Getting Old

I'm starting to run out of comments for (or perhaps patience with) my research methods class readings, which frequently involve a couple of papers from a long time ago, more recent papers addressing the same fundamental issues, and in general researchers talking past each other or disagreeing but getting nowhere with it.  Each week we have to submit 2 (or more) substantive discussion "questions" (usually a paragraph each) on the readings.

This week I pretty much want to say, "You know what [other woman in the class] wrote about the first set of readings -- that these issues seem more relevant to the discipline as a whole than to individual researchers? Ditto. While it feels nice to have grad students reading about these philosophical debates, they never seem to be resolved decade after decade, and in any case they seem quite far removed from the issues that are of primary concern to graduate students, post-docs, and assistant professors - to any academic without tenure who is attempting to get it. What we do is what is rewarded, i.e., what gets us published as much as possible in top journals (and/or what gets us grant money and/or what gets us the attention of policy makers, depending on our specific field and orientation). Who controls publication? The current crop of tenured academics who are editors for these journals.  Why don't you guys make up your friggin' minds and let us know what's what here or just admit this is all for funnies or something.  In the meantime, we have our hands full with the many throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks, underpowered, under-thought studies that our advisers are pushing us to complete this semester to use the warm bodies (undergrads) who are easily available to us in the lab."

The prof is pretty much great - enthusiastic, smart, inviting of energetic discussion, all that.  But there are moments like today when this stuff seems about as relevant to my actual work over the next 10-15 years as taking a course in ancient Greek philosophy.

[Note: in case it's not obvious, research methods does not equal stats.  Although there is a great deal of knowledge of stats necessary to understand both the framing of and the details of various debates - e.g., over how various methods lead to biased estimators under various conditions, the issues about Bayesian versus null-hypothesis-testing approaches - we are not learning how to do stats, we don't have math-type homework of any kind, or that kind of thing.  This is all at a higher conceptual level regarding how to do science, if that makes sense.]