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Archive for July, 2020

Day 347: The precipice of … something

precipice

Today is a mash of things, because frankly I still am not feeling good. My the scaly bits on my hands, face, and apparently elbows (missed that one until last night) haven’t gotten worse (yay), but they haven’t gotten better either (boo). On one hand it’s a realization that whatever is wrong with me was worse than I had thought, on the other, the world still moves forward and unfortunately I have work to do, so what’s a guy to do?

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Day 346: What is going on with me?

exhaustion

It’s going to sound like depression. I realize that as we dive into today. I don’t normally do this, but I’m rewriting this intro because I know what it sounds like. It’s not that, this is something else and it worries me. I know depression, I’m good friends with depression, this is something different so don’t tell me it’s depression, it’s not I promise. It just happens to be worse than I can ever remember right as I’m dealing with the worst flare up [of whatever I have going on] in my entire life, so it couldn’t be a coincidence … could it?

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Day 345: Undergrad research presentations

Virtual classroom

Well today is day one of three for wrapping up our undergrad/high school research experience. We had a group of about 50 I think, just in our lab and a good portion of them were high school students. Because we’re living in a pandemic, this was all done virtually! Today we get the first glimpse into how we did as mentors.

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Day 344: In which we are reminded I’m not that smart

Depression

It will pass, it always does, but for now I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. I don’t enjoy the feeling of being average, or more than likely below average. It means I have to do twice the work for half the result. I see genuine greatness and know that no matter how hard I try, that will always be out of reach for me. What do you do when you want something so bad you would die to get it and you know you will never reach your goal?

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Day 343: On lab equipment

BrokenLaser1

Luckily this wasn’t my fault, but it does make for a good story now.

It was bound to happen eventually. We all knew it would, but we didn’t expect it to fail in such a spectacular manner. That is to say, all at once. One of the people I’m mentoring checked out some lab equipment since we had come up with a way to do experiments from the comfort (see: safety) of her home. That was the plan anyway…

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Day 342: When stress hurts

Drawing of a man with cracks forming at the back of the neck. He looks sad, looking down.

Drawing of a man with cracks forming at the back of the neck. He looks sad, looking down.

I have a lot of disabilities. Some are more debilitating than others for sure, most are just annoyances or give me weird quirks that people sometimes are frustrated with, other times get a laugh from. For the past few days I’ve been dealing with a flare up so bad I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. It was a painful reminder that I was in fact stressed.

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Day 341: Solid Modeling – Week 7

Lamp Render

If you’re following along you’ve made it to week seven! This course is taught using FREE SOFTWARE so if you ever wanted to learn how to solid model, this course is the one for you. If you’re just joining then you can find all of our classes listed here in our Solid Modeling for Beginners category. They are in reverse order, so start at the bottom. Today we are setting aside our lightbulb for a moment to create something to put it in. I’ve given up keeping what we’re doing a secret (since I always put the final product in the header image anyway). So with that let’s get to it!

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Day 340: Writing… a lot.

once upon

This is how I start all my technical writing.

Another day, another set of problems. So what better way to put off my writing for the day than to write about not wanting to write. I feel like I’m living in a meme all of a sudden. Today I’ve got about 4353453421 things to write, give or take 4. Is it odd that I would rather be writing this than any of the stuff that matters?

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Day 339: What will school look like?

School

Here in the US we paused, it was only for a moment, it wasn’t long enough, and not everyone did it, but we paused. Then just as quickly as we tried to adapt to the changing times we went back to pretending everything was normal. Beaches opened, restaurants opened, bars opened, we saw celebrations and parties and we ignored a single digit daily death count, which turned into a double digit, then triple digit, now we’re hovering in at roughly 1000 deaths a day from the pandemic.

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Day 338: Feeling stuck, again

feeling stuck

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I feel stuck. With the pandemic going on and the protests (Which are still happening!) I don’t feel like there has been any forward movement in anything I’ve been involved with. I hate feeling like this, it’s so frustrating especially when I feel like I’m drowning in work to be done.

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Day 337: The end of summer mentoring

virtualconference

Still trying to get used to the idea of virtual conferences.

Well we still have a month of summer break left, but we do have the end of summer courses coming. In just a week we’re having our undergrad researcher conference (virtually of course). Everyone will get a 5 minute block to showcase their poster, talk about their experience, and get a chance to answer questions about the projects they worked on (another 5 minutes max). The whole thing will take three days to get though.

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Day 336: A close call

Teddy Bear wearing a face mask to protect against COVID-19 spread
Teddy Bear wearing a face mask to protect against COVID-19 spread

Wear the mask!!

I was up bright and early today, 4:30am to be exact. We had two experiments planned for the day, one first thing in the morning, the other in the afternoon. Being the dependable person I am, I was up and out on time, arrived here early and setup to get started. That’s when it all fell apart.

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Day 335: Solid Modeling – Week 6

Light bulb render

Finishing our bulb today!! Wooo!!!

Welcome to week six! As always, this is a free class using FREE SOFTWARE. If you want to learn how to solid model, but couldn’t afford fancy or expensive software, then this course is for you. We’ll be taking things step by step so you (hopefully) will be able to follow along easily. If this is your first visit to my lovely series, then I would suggest you start at week one, which you can find in our incredibly helpful category Solid Modeling for Beginners. Today we’re going to finish our project from last week and make a super neat light bulb!

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Day 334: 3D printing, my final summer class

Robot parts

One of the slides I used in my 3D printing course, this was the robot I designed and 3D printed (prior to assembly) for my Masters degree.

Well I got a chance to give my last lecture yesterday (virtually of course) on 3D printing. I worked literally weeks to get everything ready and it went off (mostly) without a hitch. The world of 3D printing is full of vast, multifaceted, and divergent technologies with more applications than I could possibly list in a single lecture. In fact, they offer entire 12 week courses on 3D printing, so I had to cram everything together into a nice 1-2 hour presentation, where to start?!

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Day 333: Solid modeling course day 3

3D printer

My 3D printer still working hard, but I’m still having troubles!

Yesterday was the last day for my solid modeling class and surprisingly I got more questions than the previous days so that made me very happy. Today is my 3D printing course, so we’ll talk about how that went tomorrow (and push back our online 3D printing course by a day sadly).

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Day 332: Solid modeling course day 2

Printer

Yep, still dealing with printing issues so I have the dual extruder on. Ugh!!!!!! 5 HOURS still left on this print. Why does 3D printing have to be so sloooooooow?!

Well yesterday was day 2 of my solid modeling course, today is my last day of the class. Unfortunately tomorrow is my 3D printing course and I still haven’t got my printer well behaved yet. I guess we get to see all the 3D printing troubles! In any case, let’s talk about how the class went yesterday and what I have planned for today.

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Day 331: Solid modeling course day 1

20200715_134927

The dual extruder attachment, the current bane of my existence!

Well can’t complain too much about the first course. I’m used to people talking to me so it was an odd feeling talking into a screen with no one talking back. I had a few questions, but mostly the course was on how to think about solid modeling, so maybe not a lot of room for questions?

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Day 330: I’m teaching this week!

Harbinger

I love mass effect, so I really thought this was a perfect header image for the post since I am… assuming control!

Well I mentioned it a few days ago, but it’s day one of four today. I’m teaching three courses on solid modeling and one on 3D printing * Shakes fist at 3D printer who keeps giving me problems * and I figure I can talk about how my classes go after the fact, but let’s talk about my prep for these classes so my students get the most out of what I have to teach them.

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Day 329: More 3D printing issues!

Cat boss

My boss is not happy with the work I’m doing, you can tell since she didn’t want to look at me when I took this photo.

I’m giving a class on 3D printing this week and of course my printer decides it wants to throw a fit. So my print had to be stopped (18 hours in) and the printer needed a good talking to. It’s not the printers fault, maintenance happens, so let’s talk more about my poor FDM printer (Acronym defined yesterday).

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Day 328: 3D printing… ugh

3D printing

Well it’s time, in a few short days I’ll be doing a marathon session of courses for the summer interns. I admit it I bit off a lot! I’m doing three solid modeling courses, so the basics, plus a 3D printing class. Today we’re talking 3D printing because, well it’s a headache even though the prints themselves can be worth the pain. I know if I can pull off printing what I’m working on now it will be worth it… I hope.

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Day 327: Solid Modeling – Week 5

Light bulb render

Okay everyone, I had a bright idea for our sphere… get it, get it!?!

Wow, week five already! As per my usual intro, this is a free class using FREE software so if you ever wanted to create a 3D model, this is for you and all you need is internet access to use the program we will be using. Now if you are just joining you’re going to want to start at week one, which you can find all the posts in the super lovely Solid Modeling for Beginners category. We finally did it, last week we made something cool looking! Today we’re going to expand on that and use what we learned to create another awesome thing!

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Day 326: Review: The state of spinal cord research

Figure 2 from and yet it moves
Figure 2 from and yet it moves

Facilitation of stepping-like volitional oscillations using non-invasive transcutaneous electrical spinal cord stimulation in SCI subject. (A) Position of the participant in the gravity-neutral apparatus. (B) Biphasic electrical stimulation was delivered using unique waveforms consisting of 0.3–1.0 ms bursts filled by 10 kHz frequency that were administered at 5–40 Hz. (C) EMG activity of right soleus (RSol), right tibialis anterior (RTA), right medial gastrocnemius (RMG), right hamstrings (RHam), right vastus lateralis (RVL), right rectus femoris (RRF) and angular displacement in the knee and hip joints of both legs during leg oscillations with a voluntary effort alone (Vol), stimulation at T11 (Stim), and Vol + Stim are shown. (D) Schematics demonstrating the approximate location of transcutaneous electrodes above the lumbosacral enlargement, in relation to the location of the motor pools based on Kendall et al. (1993) and Sharrard (1964).

Well it’s been two weeks (roughly) and my PI asked specifically that this week I do a review on the state of spinal cord research, with emphasis on the spinal cord stimulation work I’m doing. So this review is going to look slightly different, namely it has a rather long references section (15 total). If you find this research fascinating I recommend “And yet it moves” (reference 5). It’s long, but open access and worth the read. I’m a little bias though, my Co-PI is one of the authors. In any case, I had two weeks to write this, so hopefully it is a good dip into what we know about the spinal cord and a lot of what we don’t. Enjoy!

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Day 325: Religious freedom and you

Bill-of-Rights

I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. Then again, that’s the point of the post. The United States was founded on the idea that we can believe, or not believe, whatever we want and the government would not do anything to impose one religion on people above any other. We’ve failed miserably, but that was decades in the making.

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Day 324: Rewriting

edits

Today is a bunch of meetings and a bunch of editing. As I mentioned (or at least think I mentioned here), I had to meet with the senior author for the paper I’m working on and I got a lot of feedback, some of it was good, most of it meant more work for me. That’s the process though, write, rewrite, re-re-re-re…rewrite.

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Day 323: Skype a Scientist!

wiring

Today is going to be fun, I’ve got a ton of meetings, but I also get to do outreach. If you’re a scientist, you can do it too, no matter where you are in the field, sign up at Skype a Scientist. While I wanted to write this post before my sessions I ended up having to write it afterwards so let’s get into what I talk about and how it went.

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Day 322: Stuck

hamster wheel

Ever feel like you’re just going around in circles like a hamster in a wheel? I’ve been working on about a million different things and I just can’t seem to get them off my plate. The work just keeps going and it’s got me somewhat down. Maybe I just need a day off or something.

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Day 321:Wear the damn mask

Daily Life In Belgium Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Today is just a simple plea to my readers. Wear the damn mask. It’s not that hard. When you go out you put on your clothes, you can put on a mask too. Since people seem to be making this a political statement now, I guess I can explain why it’s not one.

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Day 320: Solid Modeling – Week 4

Finished Rocket

We’re making something a little more exciting than a cube today. Yay!

Welcome to week four! For those of us just tuning in, this is a class for solid modeling using FREE software, so if you have internet access, you can do this too! You can find the whole course in the handy Solid Modeling for Beginners category. Last week we introduced a whole lot of navigation tools and helped you get situated into the world that you’ll be able to model in. So let’s get started by doing a quick recap of the past weeks and hopefully you’ve done your homework because we’re using that part today to make something more impressive than a cube.

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Day 319: The (dis)information age

misinformation

Look around, we’re drowning in information. It’s an overload, we literally were not made to absorb this much information all at once. News stories bombard us with new bits of it. Social media is full of it. Ads promise you forbidden knowledge with this one weird trick. It’s no surprise it’s hard to tell what’s real.

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Day 318: The why.

parts

With everything going on it’s been tough to write about just one topic. When I started 365 days, I started it with the intention of highlighting my struggles and trials through one full year of my PhD with the idea that I may (or may not) keep going for the duration of my PhD process. Then COVID hit, Black lives matter protests took off (finally), and I had the realization that I, like most people, am more than just my studies.

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Day 317: Mental health and you

neural symphony

I scream it loudly from the mountain tops, I suffer all the fucking time from mental health issues. I do it because staying silent doesn’t keep me from feeling them and it does nothing for others who are suffering. Yes, it’s embarrassing to talk about it because it feels like a taboo, or something you’re making up, but that’s why we need to talk about it and why you need to keep track of your own mental health.

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