Work. I'm presently going into the closing stages of the "generic fundamentals" phase of the license training. This is exactly what the name likely implies - the basics of how things in a nuclear plant work, divided into components, reactor theory, and thermodynamics. Most of this is review for me, having seen it first when I went through Naval Nuclear Power School ten years ago (ooh, nice reminder of oldness there). That being so, there are still differences in terminology, as well as some concepts that aren't the same here (Limerick is a BWR, vice the PWRs that power aircraft carriers and submarines). Also important is the need to get everyone up to the required level of knowledge. Not all of us in the class have backgrounds in operations; some people are seeing much of the material for the first time. The NRC GF exam is in a week and a half, and I expect that not only will everybody be ready, but we all will pass it.
Purchases. The sum provided by Exelon to finance my relocation to Pennsylvania was far more than I required, so I spent some of it on much needed upgrades. Dresser, nightstand, bed and mattress - all hand-me-downs from Mom. Desk - probably the cheapest one there was in Target in New Hampshire in 2007. "Couch" - actually a futon, purchased from the New Haven IKEA in 2008. All of them out to the trash in the first two months of this year, replaced with a large haul from the IKEA in Conshohocken and self-assembled. Now, all the faux wood finish is the same color, so it looks as if I put some thought into interior design - even if it was but a tiny bit of thought. More importantly, I now have a desk sized to my needs, and a mattress and frame that aren't possibly from the middle of the last century.
We had a refueling outage in March, and I spent three weeks working the night shift - three weeks of twelve hours a night, six days a week. The overtime pay from that stretch went toward the end of ridding myself of the last mandatory connection to my time at Cornell - my student loans. The monthly payment was well within reason, and most of the interest had already been paid, so the primary benefit was psychological.
Working a normal weekday schedule (for the most part), combined with the particularly harsh winter, did serious damage to my exercise routine. I've put back on a good chunk of the weight I lost in the second half of 2012 and the first half of 2013. Earlier this month, I got another quick influx of cash when LSI Corporation, in which my parents bought me a few shares of stock when I was five years old, was acquired by Avago Technologies. I had been debating internally whether I should join a gym (namely the newly opened Planet Fitness five minutes from my apartment) or buying a piece of fitness gear (which would be a stationary bike, since it's smaller, and the pounding of feet on a treadmill is unworkable in an apartment complex). Some cogent advice from a co-worker earlier this week settled the question in favor of buying the bike. It's not equipped with a suite of wham-o-dyne bells and whistles, but it's silent and it gets the calories burnt, regardless of time of day or precipitation conditions.
Sports. John Tavares got hurt during the Olympics; while it sucked, it's the nature of having the dual duties to club and country, as has long been the case in the World Cup. Besides, the Islanders were already well out of contention by that point. They managed to salvage something for Thomas Vanek, but a single prospect and a draft pick swap deepened the sting of saying goodbye to Matt Moulson. Cornell hockey made it back to the conference semifinals, where they lost to Union; the Dutchmen would not only take their third straight ECAC Hockey championship, they came here to southeastern Pennsylvania and convincingly won the national title, something that would have been absolutely unthinkable a decade ago. Cornell lacrosse did what Cornell lacrosse has done on many occasions in recent years - they came out on the wrong end of a razor-thin margin, this time against Maryland in the first round. As I suspected they might before the baseball season started, the Mets seem solidly headed toward another win total in the mid-seventies.
I got a chance to see my family at the start of the month, right after my birthday. What felt the most weird was sleeping in Dad's room, since the room I'd previously occupied was now taken by my brother, who moved back in a couple of weeks prior. They both seemed to be doing okay. It was good to be back, and a weekend felt like just about the right amount of time to be there.
Last but not least... Ever since Cornell announced that Ed Helms, aka "Andy Bernard," would give this year's Senior Convocation address, I've been looking forward to it. I've haven't watched an episode of either the American or British versions of The Office, so I'm not familiar with Helms' work beyond his role in The Hangover. But I was just so glad that for the first time since 2008, the graduating class secured someone who's claim to fame isn't politically related. And Helms delivered a great address, archived here. Helms's speech begins at 28:45, but I also recommend class president Rob Callahan's remarks at 3:45. The fictional Cornell alumnus was insightful without being very preachy, along the lines of Keith Olbermann in 1998, and for humor content, with Phil Rosenthal at Hofstra in 2011. Neither playing an alumnus who's a touchstone of popular culture nor delivering the Convocation address confers a real Cornell degree on Helms. In that respect, I'm in the same boat as him, and I join his congratulations to the Class of 2014 - you deserve it, and you most certainly have earned it.