Just me, Professional Development, Research

The Interim

At the end of August, I shared on here news about my new job at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. I also shared a long list of things I hoped to do before I left NYC and some of my feelings about approaching such an exciting/intimidating position.

Well, we made it to Boston, and tomorrow is my first real-in-person day at the CfA. Before I get going tomorrow though, I wanted to recap what this in-between time has entailed. It’s been a crazy few weeks, and September absolutely flew by, but it’s autumn now and things aren’t about to slow down any time soon.

First, the nitty-gritty of leaving Brooklyn and my old job. Basically, I did a lot of paperwork and wrote a lot of emails and made a lot of phone-calls for a few weeks. A colleague of mine generously offered to complete my data literacy study‘s analysis phase so I had to securely transfer and organize a lot of files and update my IRB but that project’s not dying so I’m really happy about that.

Other things I dealt with were less pleasing. I had a nightmarish building management company in Brooklyn and getting my lease extended at first seemed like an easy thing to do and they were really nice about it. But then it turned out that someone never spoke to the people who extended my lease, so all they saw was that I never signed a new lease. I subsequently started receiving summonses telling me I had 15 days to leave the apt or I’d be sued… I called law offices and about 3 days before we left Brooklyn we received an acknowledgement of our lease extension that was dated August 6th, so I have no idea what happened but if I don’t get my security deposit back in a few weeks I’ll be making even more calls (joy!). Despite that mess I am still already missing my place on the beach. Our new apartment is absolutely beautiful and quiet and I love it so much, but it’s hard to not miss being steps from the beach.

Aside from the apartment mess (we had already found our wonderful new not-mess apartment) I did the paperwork for the move– renting a truck and a car and making arrangements with movers (and packing). We were going to have a 5 day period without a house (old lease ended 9/30, new didn’t start until 10/5) so we planned to take our truck full of things and our cats to my husband’s parents house in Saratoga County for a few days then drive to the Boston area. This was all well and good until my husband’s grandfather unfortunately got very sick, so instead of staying at his parents house, we dropped off our moving truck there and drove to Akron, OH for a few days to see him before turning around and heading back to NY (visiting other family on the way back) and on to Somerville. Grandfather is thankfully doing great and we got to put about 1400 miles on a rental car so I think that’s a win.

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Prior to our epic moving journey pictured above though, I got the opportunity to attend part of Astro Hack Week (here’s the GitHub repo) at the suggestion/invite of astrophysicist Kelle Cruz whose work you should absolutely take some time to read through (I’m currently digging through the AstroBetter Wiki). If I had the time I’d write a whole post about the time I got to spend at this event but really, I think Kelle summed it up really wonderfully before I left; she said something along the lines of the hack meetup being the new reference library. I wish I could remember exactly how she put it, but I thought it was wonderful. The meetup was supposed to help people ask questions and learn from each other while fostering community development, which I think is exactly what a library should try to do in every decision it makes. I think there’s way to much to talk about here to fit this in a paragraph, but upon leaving this is was what I posted on Instagram.

Summing up my experience with my first astronomy and astrophysics hack event. #AstroHackWeek #learnnewthings

A photo posted by I’m Daina. (@dbouquin) on

And I you can tell I had a lot of fun :)

Along the same lines as the hack event, I’ve been doing a bunch of programming for school (I’m still getting that second MS remember?? Click here to see some of my recent emotions about this) and have been trying to get everything I’ve been doing up on my GitHub. I’ve been trying hard to improve my Python abilities the last few weeks and have been pretty happy with my reluctance to give up and hide because until THIS WEEK we have been discouraged from using any SciPy modules and have been asked to code from scratch as much as possible (e.g. least squares linear regression). I did get to use BeautifulSoup and the Alchemy API some though (check that out the scraping and keyword/sentiment analysis I did here). Here is my repo for all of my Python work, but I’ve also been doing more with R and SQL for another class (that repo) though much of that has been review.

While I’m on this complete nerd tangent I might as well bring up that I also started to conquer my fear of hardware the last few weeks :) I took apart my computer some and upgraded my own RAM and swapped out my drive for an SSD. Up next will be making myself a little Raspberry Pi <3

Don’t panic. #dusty #hardware #diy

A photo posted by I’m Daina. (@dbouquin) on

HAHahhaha! Success. Be gone, RAM circa 2010! Things that only look hard. Saved like $300 just now. A photo posted by I’m Daina. (@dbouquin) on

Tonight. DIY SSD upgrade. Keep your fingers crossed. #wineneeded #shouldbeinteresting

A photo posted by I’m Daina. (@dbouquin) on

Out with the old… #diy #takeapartyourcomputer A photo posted by I’m Daina. (@dbouquin) on

I’m also going to bring up that I survived my first straight 10k swim in the ocean.

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Photo by Hsi-Ling Chang
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Photo by Hsi-Ling Chang

You can see my results here, but basically I finished in just over 3 hours. The water was exceptionally choppy, so I’m very pleased with that result and cannot wait to try some longer events. I think it really taught me how to pace (and learn that I should slow down) because I was exhausted at the end of this. Here’s a video of the water that day; the current was not working with us:

I’m just glad all the training is paying off, but more than that I’m grateful for the community open water swimming has given me. If you told me a few years ago that I’d be swimming ocean 10ks I would have called you insane. It’s physically ridiculous but meditative and the people who I’ve gotten to know are really what make it worth doing.

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Training off Coney Island

I’ve already gotten to swim with some wonderful people in Boston and even got to go out for a sunset swim with some of these new friends the other night. So I’m excited to see what comes next in my aquatic world.


And one last note. My husband Owen got a new job :) He’s going to be apprenticing with a master woodworker and started work today. He also built me a desk, which I will share pictures of once it’s not covered in boxes from the move.

I am tired, but so excited for tomorrow.