Spring Thaw

February 9th, 2009 by Potato

Well, these are interesting times.

On the work/school front I got a bunch of MRI time for the hospital for my project on the weekends, so I’ve been scanning like crazy. Assuming that I don’t have to go back and increase my sample size for statistical purposes and that not too many people stand me up, I should be finished the scanning part next week for this phase of the study. That’ll give me a month and a half or so of data analysis to do; hopefully I’ll be ready to start the next phase within a month or so so that there will be a bit of overlap and we’ll get things done a bit sooner.

Unfortunately, I’ve also been hit with a bunch of other work (abstracts, papers, committee meetings, phase 3 prep, etc) that all sort of came together this month in the perfect storm. The last day off I had was January 24th, and I was hoping to take this Tuesday off to give my brain a break, but I just found out I’m going to have some MRI training all week (I was told only “it starts monday at 9am” and assumed it would be one day, until I got the schedule on friday), and then more scans for my project on the weekend… so by the time I do get a break I’ll have gone 27 consecutive days. I’m pretty sure that’s against the labour code (actually, I looked it up, it is… but grad students don’t count). Ah well, science does always seem to go in fits and bursts… hopefully this craziness will clear my plate enough that I can have a few extra relaxing days on the patio when the weather turns nice.

Plus they’re not necessarily short days. Yesterday I was here in the MRI for 15 hours… and I couldn’t even leave; I had so much food in my bag I swore I was going to rip it open, and even then I ran out by 5 pm and my stomach was just growling by 2am when I finally got to leave. Speaking of yesterday, it was not a good day. Ok, good in the fact that hey, I scanned 5 people (almost 6!) in one go, which is a decent dent to my project (and another 5 today in just 13 hours). However, it started off with me waking up to the sound of water dripping into the back room. The weird thing is that the water was coming in through the frame of the window, and it’s not exactly like the snow was pressed up against it on the other side, so it’s leaking through the walls somewhere and then coming out the window. With the scans I just didn’t have the time to deal with it so I just threw some towels down and hoped for the best. I was having visions of the whole back wall of the house melting away while I was at work, but not much more water came in through the day than was there when I woke up. The glacier on top of the house also seems to have cleared up. As much of a pain as that was, I’m really glad we finally had a bit of a spring thaw: that snow has been building up since before xmas, refreezing harder and harder each night after we had a sunny day.

Leaky window? Fuck it, I don\'t have time to deal with this shit.
3 Inches of ice, above the level of the eaves!!

I had one subject just not show up for her MRI. No email or call to let me know, just stood me up. And the sad thing is that that’s not uncommon. WTF? Have some common courtesy. Other than that the day went fairly well up until my last subject at midnight. Just as we were getting set up the power went out and the scanner put up all kinds of error codes (ok, just the one, but it was bad), so I sent him home to be on the safe side, but still ended up staying until 2am just trying to reset the system and make sure everything was still working. As far as I can tell I haven’t been making any mistakes (aside from grammatical) with the sleep deprivation and the “always-on-ness”, but I’m definitely starting to feel my age. I’m also really glad I’m essentially just running a computer (3 actually, but same difference) and not performing surgery on somebody.

In the world at large the economic news has not been good. So far through all of this mess I’ve been stupidly optimistic: I figured it was a crisis of confidence, a liquidity problem, an issue of essentially worthless mortgages and commercial paper that would lead to some losses around the board, but that the economy as a whole would survive, and that there would be bargains to be found in the stock market to throw money at… and that the housing market would turn around at its own glacial pace and come back to earth. As time has wore on I became convinced that we were going into a recession (and are now in one), but again, that things would come around.

Then the unemployment numbers for January came out and I nearly shit my pants. Check out the picture at the Big Picture. That’s for the US, which lost ~600k jobs in January; Canada lost ~100k, more proportionately than we should have by population alone. The recession is catching up to us, big time.

Look above: I’m getting some crazy MRIs in; my project is actually making progress, which means at some point (probably early 2010 if all continues to go according to plan) I’m going to leave grad school and need a real job. This is scary stuff, and isn’t likely to be over in 6 months to a year.

At least it’s finally warm out.

6 Responses to “Spring Thaw”

  1. Ben Says:

    You’ll have a PhD, and not one you bought from an “online university”, so I think you’ll probably do OK in the job market, regardless of it’s in-the-toiletness at the time you finish up.

    And yeah, the warm weather is sweet! It was getting to be a hazard for me to back out of my driveway since the snow was piled so high on either side I couldn’t really see anything until I was basically blocking the entire right lane with my car. Thankfully it’s a relatively deserted residential street.

  2. Wayfare Says:

    Um… am I the only one who sees something else wrong with that first picture besides the leak? Like maybe the combination of water and electricity??

  3. Potato Says:

    It’s a common misperception: wires and lights often carry electricity which leads to the conclusion that wires=electricity, but in this case you can see that the lights are not on, so there is no electricity in that wire.

    However, just out of frame is a wall socket which does have electricity. Fortunately it didn’t get wet, but it easily could have if the leak had spread across the whole window.

  4. Netbug Says:

    Check your eaves, they’re probably full of ice, which causes the snow on the roof to back up into odd places and leak through minor imperfections in the shingling.

    We had the same problem. My dad ran a wire around the eaves that heats up when we turn it on which allows free-flow of the melting snow and ice.

  5. Potato Says:

    Interesting story: our landlord had the roof redone last year, and swore that there was such a heater system in the eaves. Wayfare talked to the guys who did the work, who said there wasn’t.

  6. Wayfare Says:

    Not only did the roofers say there wasn’t such a system in place, they said that there was just a random old cord up on the roof that wasn’t plugged into anything and went nowhere. I suspect that our landlord’s son-in-law (her resident “handyman”, and I use that term *very* loosely) just threw an old cord up there and told her that it was done.

    Apparently our landlord did ask the roofers to “replace” this system, and as far as I know, they did (maybe? they said they were going to), in which case, the first time this leaking happened was *after* we had a real wire up there melting the eaves. Although they told us nothing about how to turn it on.