my slow cooker

How a special appliance has saved me both time and sanity

I want to thank one special appliance
Whose dedication and trusty alliance
Have been a time saver for a busy grad mom.
You snuck into my kitchen with quiet aplomb,
Arriving, in a box, some years ago—
Black and sleek. How was I to know
That you would save me countless hours?
Minimizing meal prep with your heating powers.
And you save me, too, from decision fatigue!
Other kitchen gadgets just aren't in your league.
So, on Sunday mornings, that was our routine!
Chopping veggies, carrots, and sometimes green beans.
Toss in some lentils, barley, or peas!
We varied by week: soup or Chinese?
Chili, orange chicken, sometimes a stew,
Rice with beans; often barbecue.
By evening, the apartment always smelled great.
My spouse and I filled up our plates.
And leftovers! Man, were those our goal!
We dished them straight into jars and bowls.
Dinners for a week—for two, no less!
No need to prep or make a mess.
Your 6-quart volume held just enough
To keep us fed when nights were rough.
'Cause let's face it. Grad school's no joke.
You're stressed and tired and sometimes you're broke.
Between classes, field studies, and paper writing;
Managing undergrads, coding, and citing...
A grad student's work never feels done...
(Even if I think some of mine is fun!)
So when I'm at home at the end of the day,
When I want to sleep and my kid wants to play,
Finding that dinner is ready! Already! It's nice.
Microwave a bowl and eat in a trice.
So as I reflect on what helped me through grad school,
I'd say you, dear slow cooker, were a most useful tool.
Food fuels the brain and the body too...
So I wanted to say: Dear slow cooker, thank you.

This article originally appeared on the MIT Graduate Student Blog, May 2019


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A poem to celebrate my year

2018: A year defined by a PhD,
A study, analyses, and a writing spree.
A kid who’s growing; a family, moving.
Always learning, ever improving.

In January, I was glued to a laptop,
Programming robots and testing nonstop.
I recorded dialogue; recruited schools;
Prepped assessments; built software tools.

snow-covered front steps of a house

February is a wild, snowy blur
Of consent forms, paperwork, and red and blue fur.
Kids signed up!
The robot was ready!
All this made me happy, since progress was steady.

the robot tega's face

As March snow melted, the study began!
I drove to schools and followed my plan.
Eight sessions each, plus pre and post;
The robot was keeping the kids engrossed.

In April, one kid, who wasn’t too shy,
Told me he was “actually part robot, so I can fly!”
(Tega, our robot, it’s worth pointing out,
Just talks, and sits, and looks about.)

By May, I was glad if the robots didn’t break,
But why oh why did I choose this headache?
Long-term studies will be my demise
Why oh why do I do this, you guys?

Oh wait, it’s June, long-term studies are the best!
Look, I have data, totally worth being stressed!
Learning with robots over time—this is nice!
Awesome research, look: data! Worth the price.

sunny blue couer d alene lake

In July, let’s mix it up and buy a home,
Way out west where there’s space to roam,
More lakes, more space, and bonus, it’s cheap!
Less traffic, more mountains; more yard upkeep.

In a haze of boxes and packing tape,
The month of August and ggplot graphs take shape.
Let’s leave the humidity and Boston’s heat:
Analyze data; start writing; retreat.

light coming through leaves

September is data, papers, and writing.
And writing, revising, and then some rewriting.
I find getting three great professors to be
In the same place at the same time isn’t all that easy.

yellow leaves on a maple tree

I like watching the colored October leaves from my chair.
They dance and they spin, red and yellow in the air.
Oh wait, I’m still writing. I need a new graph…
Add to this chapter; fix that paragraph….

me hugging little Elian in front of evergreens

My baby is two! He’s as tall as a table!
He’s finally stopped trying to eat all our cables!
I’m still writing. Time to start my talk prep.
Defense Day is looming on the doorstep.

my PhD committee and me, post-defense!

Now here’s a day that I’ll remember!
Dissertation defense on the 12th of December.
Crazy year it’s been, that and then some…
But hey: Dr. Jackie, here I come!

This article originally appeared on www.media.mit.edu, January 2019


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Occasionally, I come up with new lyrics for existing songs. Here's some I recently wrote for my husband, Randy Westlund, about his favorite operating system:

BSD

(to the tune of Let It Be - The Beatles)

When I find Gentoo is too much effort
And Linux uses systemd
It's time to reconsider, which OS for me
And when Windows goes to blue screen
Allan Jude stands right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, install BSD

BSD, BSD
BSD, BSD
Which OS is better?
BSD

And when the broken hard drives fail
There's no quick recovery
There will be an answer: BSD
Though data seems corrupted
It's not 'cause ZFS can guarantee
Your files can be saved by FreeBSD

BSD, BSD
BSD, BSD
If you hate closed software, try OpenBSD

BSD, BSD
BSD, BSD
If you have a toaster, there's NetBSD

BSD, BSD
BSD, BSD
It's more user-friendly with PC-BSD

You wake up to a big new update
Rebuild packages throughout the tree
Compile until tomorrow - BSD
And when you run your own homeserver
Focus on security
Set up jails for your users with BSD

BSD, BSD
BSD, BSD
Which OS is better?
BSD

BSD, BSD
BSD, BSD
Which OS is better?
BSD

Creative Commons License
BSD (Let It Be) by Jacqueline Kory Westlund is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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