Previously, this was a blog mostly to harass my poor friends and family with the details of my life. Don't worry-- that will continue. However, I'm also going to use this as a terrible forum for dialogue about green tips and eco-revolutions. Hopefully it will be helpful and entertaining...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Orientation Week!

I am now officially orientated!

The first day was mostly Nicholas School stuff-- meeting some of the head peeps in charge, other first-years, and some older students. I learned all about being a good TA and felt vaguely less lost getting around campus.

I also had a more general Graduate Student orientation, where we were talked at for awhile about fairly informative things and then got to walk around to a bunch of tables of people giving away free stuff and information for services and groups around Duke. I myself received multiple pens, a flashlight, and a variety of stickers.

On Wednesday, I visited the lemur center, where the lemur that played Zoboomafoo now lives. This excited me to no end, but others seemed considerably less impressed. They also allow some of the lemurs to live in a separated part of the Duke Forest, so that they can be studied in an approximately natural habitat. It was really interesting, and one of the other first year PhD students is going to be working there, so hopefully I'll get the inside scoop on those crazy lemurs... Wednesday night we went out to an interesting bar and got some decent panini type food. It was nice to relax a bit with people.

On Thursday, we had our Responsible Conduct of Research orientation. This was basically a really long repetition of "Don't Cheat", but it had some interesting discussion about what to do if you felt that someone was using questionable practices and how copyright works. Plus, we got a lot of decent food. A few of us met up later at Felix, one of the first year PhD student's house, and had a couple of beers. It was nice to just sit around and relax. I'm really glad that everyone in this program is so friendly.

Friday was pretty much open, so I biked on to Duke campus. It didn't take too long, but I felt a bit tired so I parked my bike on east campus (which is a bit closer to my house) and took a really short shuttle to west campus. There, I met with my advisor, Dean Urban, to discuss some specifics. It was a good meeting, and I felt much more certain about many aspects of my PhD. When I returned to my house, I felt strangely tired and my throat was hurting. Concerned, I decided to relax for a bit and curled up in bed. Little did I know that a hellish cold had been set upon me.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

All Moved In...

Well, I've been here for a week and am approximately settled. I have all the furniture I need, other than a dresser-- which I'll be picking up from IKEA the next time I am in the Baltimore area. Here is the basic idea:

It's really nice, and I actually have more space than I thought I would. The bed in there is actually the former roommate's, and I'll be putting up a sofa bed when she comes to pick that up in the next few weeks.

Dad, Marlie, Jordan, and Matt all drove down with me and helped me move in. It was sad to see them go, but it has been great talking with them on the phone and chatting online-- after being in New Zealand where I could really only talk to my family once a week, this does not feel very far away at all. I was even thinking of driving back up for the weekend, but I decided that it would make the most sense to just stay put and try to get comfortable in my skin. Plus, the bike coop I want to try to get a decent, inexpensive bike from is only open on Sundays!

I've spent most of the week driving around Durham, finding every thrift store, hunting for furniture, and meeting a ton of great people via Basma (my housemate). I am considering investing in a GPS for my car-- I've gotten lost every single time I've gone out, and I've been told that I should pretty much expect that. Durham has many winding roads that randomly change names and directions, in addition to various roads having the same (or extremely similar) names.

In happy news, Matthew's family sent me a peace lily that really cheered me up and also freshens the air! Hopefully I'll be able to keep it alive and happy. A few days later, Matt sent me a beautiful bouquet of purple flowers for our year-and-a-half-iversary, thus again proving himself to be the best boyfriend, and one of my favorite people, in the world!

I was able to get most of my furniture used, from moving grad students or a neat place called Trosa. I also went to Trader Joe's in Chapel Hill, which has an exciting and cheap selection of decent wine. Maryland does not sell alcohol anywhere but in liquor stores, so I am excited to again live in a real state, where wine is not closeted into sketchy corner stores that close on Sundays. Hurray! On Saturday, I dropped in on the Durham Farmer's Market and bought an insanely good batard, which I've been eating with jam daily. I hope to get fresh, local tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil for a matthew caprese salad at some point in the next few weeks. Besides all the delicious food, there were a few musicians around and free yoga in a nearby park. All in all, it was a feast for all the senses!

Basma and I dropped by the Duke gym, and it is gorgeous. I am excited to try out a simple and short circuit of weight machines, which I can hopefully work into my fitness routine. I've also found a pretty good jogging trail. It goes through a local park, which used to be a bird sanctuary and part of the Museum of Life and Sciences-- which means that there is a huge brontosaurus next to part of the path. I'm not joking. Go here and scroll down to "Points of Interest": the dinosaur on the right is about a 5 minute walk from my house.

On Sunday, I went to the Bike Co-op and had quite an adventure. They have a program that allows you to buy a bike for cheap-- you have to help fix it up and whatnot, but it's way less expensive than a new bike. I worked on a bike for about two and a half hours, got it ready to go, and then we decided that it was actually too small for me... Then we found a new, nearly ready bike, and got it ready to go in about 30 minutes. It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot. AND, I'm now a member, so I can go back to the store to fix my bike if there are any problems. Once I get a helmet and a lock, I'll be good to go!

Orientation fills up this week, and then school starts for real next week...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Broadway Brett

For anyone unaware of the football world, the New York Jets have finally received their fated quarterback, the formidable Brett Favre. This season is going to be extra-interesting...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Saying Hello to Durham

Hurray! New blog up and running! Some quick info for peeps...
To the right are buttons to subscribe to my RSS feed, so you can INSTANTLY know when I publish a new blog. You could also email me if you want me to set up the blog to email you when I update... Or, you could just check out my blog whenever you get bored enough to amble on over. I plan to update every two weeks or more often, so it shouldn't be too hard to keep up to date with me...

I also put up an archive, groupings of blog entries by subject, and a bunch of links (including my Amazon wish list!!!) and such on the right.

And now on to my current plans...

Saturday morning, I will be heading down south in a convoy of three cars packed with most of my earthly belongings. The drive is about five to six hours, and we aim to be at my new house by mid-afternoon. The trip should involve many humorous pictures of overly-filled cars, sweaty family members, and angry and threatening people... All in all, a good way to remember my loved ones for a few weeks before I see them again.

Once down there, I am going to settle in, deal with all the fine tunings of living in a new town and state, and try to explore the area and meet new people! As you can tell, this will all be fodder for my blog...

Stay tuned!