Saturday, April 19, 2008

The day the ground shook

Dancing Butterflies
Originally uploaded by desireux

Yesterday, April 18th, was a very significant day for me. Not only did an earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale hit the midwest, I passed my Qualifying Exams, and it was the first-year anniversary of

I was awaken in the middle of the night by the glass mirrors on my cupboards rattling rather violently. I then realized that the soft board walls were moving! My first thought was earthquake, but I was kind of dazed and just looked at the shaking and waiting for it to stop. It felt quite long in my semi-conscious state but after it stopped I went back to sleep. On one hand, it felt like an earthquake, but then I never knew that there could be earthquakes in the midwest! The next morning in lab my labmate asked me if I felt the earthquake and I thought "wow, it was real! ... my first earthquake!"

Then, it was time for me to sit for my Qualifying Exam, the first major milestone in my doctorate program. I was nervous, but at the same time a little excited too- to present my research after two years as a graduate student and after a month and a half of intense writing and reading up on literature. Exactly halfway through my presentation, the projector started shaking and my slide on the screen was moving quite badly. Instantly the discussion shifted away from my slide to "Earthquake!". My first thought was "Wow, who gets an earthquake during their quals??" (I later found out it was an aftershock measuring 4.2). It was kind of funny too because there were some "ground breaking, earth shattering research jokes" :D

Anyway, I passed my quals. I was quite happy after presenting and after the professors on my committee told me I had passed. My committee posed many questions, suggestions, ideas and comments, and overall, I felt that those two hours were very beneficial. It was a great learning experience and I'm sure the suggestions will help my progress. Although it was a rather stressful period preparing for the quals, I'm glad the department makes it a milestone which we have to pass. It made me think about my project very carefully, plan what I want to achieve in the future, and more importantly read the literature. Before I started my preparation, I didn't really see the direction or purpose of my research, and definitely did not read enough. Now, I have a clear idea of what I want to achieve and can picture my plan. I'm excited!

Moving on to the pop-up cards, it's been a year since I first registered Pop-Ups by tracychong on Etsy. It's one of the best things I have done. When I first started making the pop-up cards, I didn't know what lay ahead. Looking back at the past 12 months, I see lots of hardwork, sacrifice, frustration, but what stands out the most is the immense satisfaction of designing, creating, seeing results from numerous hours of discussion and planning as well as hearing happy stories from the new owners of the pop-ups. A big thank you to everyone for their support (and to someone for putting up with all the zillion bits of little paper), and especially to my business partner, I could not have done it without you.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mother's Day Cards

Flower for Mom
Originally uploaded by desireux

Here are my pop-up cards for Mother's Day. As you can see, there are flowers, butterflies and ladybugs, all inspired by my latest obsession with potted plants in lab.

A short update on my plants: The gladiolus sprouts have become giant leaves! They are probably 3 feet tall now, and still in the pot on my indoor window ledge. If they grow any taller, I might have to transplant them outdoors. The tulips sprouts are just starting to become leaves. The sprouts are so fat they look like they are going to burst.