Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Vacation Recap

My Christmas vacation was really nice with a lot of relaxing with Dem and our families. Since I'm still not interested in writing I will make use of my pictures to recap what we did over the vacation.

The only bad part of the trip was the driving...basically everyday that we had to drive the weather was horrible. I didn't actually get to drive the speed limit until we were driving from Pigeon back to Ann Arbor at the end of our trip. There was a ton of snow and quite a bit of wind during the drive, but we made it every where we needed to go safe and sound in relatively good time considering the conditions.

View of the snow piling up in front of Dem's parent's house.

While up by Traverse City we spent most of the time playing wii, watching tv (Freaks & Geeks, Red Wings, football, etc), celebrating Dem's mom's (dinner and bowling), and relaxing. We had an early Christmas at their house opening gifts. Not too many pictures were taken of this but I did capture Cal (the family dog) opening his gift.

Cal opening his gift.

The last night Dem's parents and us played a very close game of Scrabble.

For most of the game I thought I was totally out of it, but then I was able to go out first resulting in everyone else having to subtract their tiles and giving me those points. In the end I won by a very narrow margin...Dem's dad = 135; Dem and her mom = 136; Me = 137.

The Scrabble score sheet.

We then made the difficult drive to my parent's house. We got there in the evening of Christmas eve giving us just enough time to go to the Christmas Eve Service at St. John's Berne. I really wanted to go to that, but thought that with the weather there was no way we could the end we decided that it was a miracle that we arrived when we did.

Dem and I after the Christmas Eve Service.

I don't really have any pictures from my stay there so there isn't much to recap. But the time was really great with us basically doing the same thing we did at Dem's parents. We watched a lot of tv (House, NCIS, Red Wings), went to church (got 3 services in), did some exercise (played some bball and ran at the gym), opened gifts for Christmas (with parents, TC, and Chad), spent time with family, played Wits & Wagers with my parents (super fun game) and got some wii playing in. Overall our time was very relaxing and enjoyable.

Dem I think had a good time...looks like she did.

In the end we got some well needed relaxation time, spent some quality time with families, and got some great gifts.

Some of the gifts I got, clockwise from top left: toolbox, wii accessories, Michigan football book, Wits & Wagers, and a new box spring for my bed (curtousy of my dad's gift).

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Weekend

My first post-defense weekend was very relaxing and enjoyable, which was just what I needed. Plus I finally got my replacement battery for my camera, which means once again I can take pictures and post them on my blog. Thus it is only fitting that I have a picture post recapping some of the highlights from the weekend.

Friday - Dem and I finally setup my Christmas tree since it was due time and we were going to have a Christmas/Elf/Brian's done with his PhD celebration at my place on Saturday.

The naked tree

Me doing some tree decorating.

Dem putting hooks on some ornaments.

Finished product.

We then got to work on making additional preparations for the party.

Dem went to work in the kitchen making cookies and other goodness.

Including my favorite holiday snack...puppy chow.

I on the other hand disassembled my entire home entertainment setup...and then put it back together.

Saturday - In the morning we went to the funeral of the father of one of my best friends. It was pretty sad obviously, but quite impressive to see the strength of that family.

Once we got back to Ann Arbor we made the final preparations for the party (by we I mean Dem since I really did nothing). It was fun getting together with friends, watching Elf, eating deliciousness, and playing some "games".

Mike leading the dictionary game...he reads the definition we try to guess the word...its surprisingly more fun then one might think.

Sunday - not many pictures from this day. Highlights included sleeping in, attending a Christmas concert (which was really well done), and relaxing with my lady.

Isn't she cute.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I think I'm now UNOFFICIALLY a doctor...I have the thumbs up from the gatekeepers but I have to fill out paper work and what not before I'm officially a doctor. It is really nice to be done, but what made it super nice is that a good portion of my family was able to come and get to see what I really do and celebrate the completion of this phase of my life. Then the day was topped off with a nice quiet evening with Dem eating pizza, watching Arrested Development, and playing a little bit of tetris....oh yeah, life doesn't get much better. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from yesterday to share due to the lack of a camera. However, today I got a picture from the talk I gave in Korea and as luck would have it I'm wearing the exact same thing (so just picture it in a much smaller room with less people).

Giving my talk in Korea wearing the same thing I wore for my defense.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Almost Time

Showtime in 11.5 hours...can't wait.

It's interesting that I have the same feelings that I use to have the night before a big game in high school. It's a weird mix of anxiety, excitement and confidence. Anywho, time to practice the talk one last time, relax and try to get a good night sleep.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Looking Back

I visited PhD Comics for the first time in a very long time (besides when Sherry passes a good one on to me), and it just captures the life of a grad student so well. So I decided to recap my graduate studies with several comics that I think capture something that can only fully be appreciated by those that have been through the fire...but I hope everyone enjoys them (click on images for larger versions).

The Early Days (years?)

Middle Ages

The Past Year

The successful representation of my past academic career gives confidence that we can use PhDcomic to extrapolate even into the future...

This Coming Wednesday

My Life as a Postdoc

Friday, December 05, 2008

PhD Defense Countdown

5 days to go...I'm ready to be finished.

The month and a half of nonstop writing and thinking was so much easier (in terms of motivation to work) than this period of trying to make my presentation...motivation seems to have significantly dropped ever since I distributed my dissertation.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Another Hoop

Today I made the leap through one of so many hoops necessary to obtain my doctorate. This was a very important one...I distributed my dissertation to my committee. Bonus, I got to learn how to spiral bind papers since my dissertation was too large for binder clips. I'm super exhausted and in need of a break, so I will take the next two days to do only like work before getting to work on making the presentation for defense in less than 10 days.