I sure did push things to the deadline this month. It’s because I am overcoming challenges, every day! And that’s the topic of this month’s Scientiae: overcoming challenges, and the most firey fire of my academic career.
It’s a hard question to answer because there have been so MANY challenges. What about deciding halfway through my master’s that I did not want to stay on and do the planned PhD on the same topic, because I had suddenly realized I was doing the wrong thing? Or do I talk about the project from hell that wasn’t even a planned part of my thesis and almost took over, and that left me crying in the lab in the middle of the night by myself several nights a week for over two years? Or maybe the emotional fall-out that made the last year or two pure hell?
The last one is the freshest in my mind. Surviving the end of grad school. Unlike early grad school, with its relentlessly long nights and weekends of classwork and unrewarding research on a project I despised, the second half of the PhD was tough because I was running out of steam. I recovered from the exam burn-out only to have it come right back over the next three years, this time with that long-haul depression that apparently most grad students experience (this is repeating myself, but I note again: THIS IS BROKEN. SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THAT). Regular panic attacks, being unable to get to a doctor covered by my student health plan (NOTE: ALSO BROKEN) in order to get more than emergency help with the suddenly elevated panic disorder (instead I just ended up with some emergency meds prescribed over the phone. Once I stopped hyperventilating), and the massive stress of having to finish under a crazy, very early, and inflexible deadline while simultaneously trying to find gainful employment for the rapidly approaching day when I would get kicked out of school… That was nuts. I am only just starting to cook things that aren’t pasta again. I only just started exercising again. And doing crafts and playing in a music group and even occasionally going out for a drink with friends. I had almost forgotten that those things exist.
I know that’s a pretty standard fire – the fire of getting the goddamn PhD – but it was pretty damn firey. And it’s still very fresh – I’m not quite healed from it yet. But I suppose it made me stronger. Where “stronger” = “done.”
My laptop is being repaired, so I’m internet-less at home right now and a bit behind on the reporting. Eruptions and the Volcanism Blog are on top of this, though, so I suggest you read their excellent posts since yesterday afternoon. I’ll offer a brief summary, based on the information available from the AVO so far: The Hut webcam came back online yesterday afternoon and has provided some good pictures of a sixth explosive blast from Redoubt’s summit. A video recap is available here. There continued to be small eruptive blasts after the first five major ones, and an overflight was conducted yesterday afternoon. There are AVO photos here, some of which show that the increased meltwater caused flooding at the margins of the Drift glacier and mudflows on the upper Drift River. Following the sixth explosive eruption there were more mudflows and also pyroclastic flows on the north flank of the volcano.
After months of elevated activity and waiting for a likely eruption, Redoubt has gone to Color Code RED and had four explosions recorded since last night. The Volcanism Blog has reported quite a few of the details during the night. Ashfall from the 50,000 foot plume should start this morning in affected towns (not expected to include Anchorage). The AVO doesn’t have photos of the eruption up yet, I assume because it’s dark, but there are some great seismics, and there is a good map of the plume on Weather Underground. Ash advisories for locals can be found at NOAA. The eruption appears to be ongoing with continuing strong tremors.
ETA: RSO, the closest seismometer to the summit, stopped transmitting at 4:15am local time. Exciting!
Sciencewoman had this fabulous link to a Smithsonian photo collection of amazing women in science up today, and I just had to spread it around the blogosphere. A couple of the people included are, in my opinion, not scientists (a literature professor? a pilot?), and it’s a very biology- and medicine-heavy list (there’s not a single geoscientist!), but it’s nonetheless an inspiring group of people.