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It seems that I have difficulty making appointments for regular check-ups. Barring some compelling motivation, I just don’t schedule them. I haven’t seen a dentist since I broke a tooth a year-and-half ago, and I haven’t been to an optometrist in almost three years.

Last week I lost a contact lens, and realized too late that I was completely out of replacements. Since I don’t have glasses as a back-up (a failure I must soon remedy), I spent the last week alternating between headache-inducing partial vision and complete myopia. This morning, I was finally able to get in for a vision check-up and contact exam.

Turns out that the myopia in my left eye worsened substantially. Twice she double checked, even after I had inserted the new trial pair of contacts:

“Is this better? Or this? Number one? Or number two?”

“Number one. Definitely.”

“Really?”

In my right eye, my myopia was unchanged, but a previously uncorrectable astigmatism (so minor they just don’t make contacts for it) had worsened enough to warrant specialized contacts. When she demonstrated the difference with and without correction for the astigmatism, I was astounded. How long had I been walking around with such smear-y vision?

Needless to say, I am now enjoying the High-Definition, Technicolor world of new contacts. Maybe I should make these trips to the ophthalmologist an annual thing.

But regular dental appointments? I’m afraid that’s still going to take some convincing.

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I was talking to a friend who is working on his PhD in a field very closely related to mine. He’s in a research group of seven or eight men and one woman. However, the female student has been asked to leave at the end of summer. I’m told she arrived with an impressive Masters thesis, but she simply didn’t meet expectations.

I won’t presume to guess whether the firing is justified. What disturbed me was my friend’s commentary regarding her departure. I always considered him a forward-thinking individual, but he betrayed a shocking bias when he told me:

“She was Professor R.’s first female student. I doubt he’ll hire another.”

Since the start of my undergraduate career, I’ve felt a burden to prove myself for the sake of subsequent female heirs to engineering. Though success might be ignored, a failure would surely serve as evidence for any passing naysayer. (I picture this naysayer yawning, stately idly, “Yeah. Women just can’t hack it in the technical arena.”)

Of course, I would have never admitted this feeling openly. I figured that this was just another of my abundant neuroses.

Apparently, I figured wrong.