Last-minute vacationing

The transition from college to a full-time job comes with very clear expectations and limits, as far as I have been led to believe.  The long, carefree vacations most of us experience from childhood to the age of 22 or so give way to overtime and budgeting those paid vacation days to be used for maximum fun (or necessary rest).

The guidelines are not so clear in graduate school.  In the presence of the university schedule, it is tempting to stick to the oscillating pace of the undergrad life - ramping up and down between burn-out inducing work levels and no motion at all - but we are not given two to four months of the year to recover from such behavior.  Instead, we keep working.  Under successful brainwashing by our departments and advisors, we begin to feel like we cannot take time off or go anywhere to just have fun and relax.  After all, any time spent not working is time wasted on the path to a PhD, right?  Maybe a little, but it's all a question of figuring out an appropriate balance.

In the spirit of the balancing act of life (and under invitation by Phil's parents), I traveled out East for a week to have a little fun and some actual vacation before school started.  It would be boring for me to go into the details, but I enjoyed the trip, spent time at the beach in Stone Harbor, NJ, and returned last Tuesday night to a world of getting-ready-for-classes insanity.

Although I let myself go on a vacation from work, I couldn't take a break from cookie baking, and so I picked one of the simplest recipes in my book and ran with it.

These are basically Pecan Sandies by a different name.  The recipe only calls for six ingredients, and doesn't require any extra chilling time, so it was a good choice for out-of-town baking.

In this recipe, finely chopped toasted pecans are added to a mixture of flour, salt, butter, brown sugar, and egg yolk to make a crisp, melt-in-your-mouth cookie with a flavor reminiscent of pecan pie.  In the interest of not storing random extra ingredients, I omitted the pecan halves that were supposed to be placed in the center of each cookie, which left them somewhat lacking aesthetically.  However, I found the toasted pecans made these taste really good, and I enjoyed the texture as well.


  1. Curious question for you then - what are you doing your Ph.D. in and what do you hope to accomplish with said Ph.D. after?

  2. I am doing my PhD in Physics (hence the blog subtitle), and I'm working on the second part of that question. When I started in the program I thought maybe I would like to be a fancy research professor at some large university, but lately I think that I don't really want to throw away my youth on the rat race for tenure. This leaves (at least in terms of obvious paths) either research work in industry or teaching at some small college. Right now teaching seems like the most amenable choice, but I don't have to actually make that decision for at least three more years, and who knows what I'll think about life at that time.



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