What’s In My Bag: Miss Outlier

What’s In My Bag: Miss Outlier

I’ve never actually carried a backpack on a regular basis. I was homeschooled all the way up through highschool, so there was no need to carry textbooks back and forth – they stayed on the bookshelf for when I needed them. And then in community college, by random chance I had a shoulder bag from Land’s End hanging around, and I decided to just use that. I’ve grown accustomed to the shoulder bag, and then when I moved to undergrad from community college, I just stuck with the genre. (Under family “bag,” mine would be genus “shoulder.”) I had one bag that lasted me all the way through undergrad, then in grad school I got a new bag for the occasion, and barring unfortunate wardrobe malfunctions, it’s going to last me until I finish here.

In my bag:

Wallet and keys

So many keys! No, I did not murder a janitor, but I have keys to my front door, storage closet, into the apartment building, my mailbox, and then my lab building, my office, my research lab, and then three keys dealing with the shop space I rent to tinker in. Goodness! I also have to give a shoutout to ZipCar – I love having a car when I need it, and not have to deal with owning one in a big city. Eight dollars an hour, located EVERYWHERE you want one, sign me up!


Thanks Dad! My gift going into grad school is my beloved MacBook. Thing is indestructible.

The things you can never find when you need them: favorite pens and hairties

Why is it that every semester, I buy pens and hairties in bulk, and they seem to simultaneously scatter everywhere and yet never be where I need them?? I adore Onyx Micropoint Rollerball pens. I never use pencil anymore – if I made a mistake, I’ll just cross it out and start over. Pen works so much better in lab notebooks, and feels official. Or maybe it’s my way of celebrating not having to do homework sets anymore…

Name plate

Can’t show you this one, as it rather defeats the purpose of writing under Miss Outlier.

So my program requires PhDs to have a major and a minor speciality. My minor is entrepreneurship, so I get to take a bunch of classes over in the business school. In the business side of campus, all the desks come with slots in the front, and all students are issued a laminated name card. During class, you have to display your name card so the professor can call on you. If you don’t have the card, they will call on you MORE because you are out of line. However engineering students are not issued these name cards, and I got tired of being picked on for not having one. My fellow engineers who dare to venture to the business side of the world normally just write their name with Sharpie on notebook paper, and prop that up.

We can’t be having THAT, I thought. So I designed my own name card, and waterjetted it out of a thin sheet of aluminum, and put a black polymer sheet behind it for better readability.

Somehow I still get called on a lot.

Business cards – times three

I have business cards for me as a student, me as the President of my LLC, and as the lead organizer of an international conference. Forget wearing different hats… just carry different cards!

Paperwork junk and mess

Why do I cart this junk back and forth every day? Ack! On a happier note, I found where my copy of LabView install CDs has been hiding…

Personal items

These would be items of the purse variety. Ladies, you know the standard suspects: basic makeup, tissues, nail clippers for basketball, gum, extra pair of sunglasses. Since I carry a bookbag and not a purse, they still come along. Men, I feel, either don’t carry this kind of thing, or they put it in pockets. When they start making women’s jeans with some decent pocket space maybe I’ll go to that.

Lab Notebook

Come on, I’m a grad student. Lab notebook is required!

Nod to Research: Nanosilver Inks

Sometimes I end up with things in my bag relating to research or projects I am tinkering on. This week, I have been doing viscosity testing on some very fancy inks. Each of those bottles up there is a silver nano-particle ink, in different chemical carriers (including some weird ones like cyclohexane, xlyene, toluene, and mesitylene). They are made specifically for me, so the manufacturer quite simply does not know the ink properties. So I have to figure it out. SCIENCE! The syringes and needles are for handling the ink, thankyouverymuch. (As a side note, this is also the most expensive thing by far in my bag – each bottle is about $250, for a total of… $don’t-drop-the-bag)

There you have it, folks, the necessary items in my bag. Or at least the habitual items, ahem, as when doing this post I realized I do cart back and forth a lot of unnecessary stuffs…

1 comment

I love this post! I did a similar type post on my blog about what I carry in my purse, but I’m trying to carry less because it’s so hard to carry both a purse and a backpack during the semester. I like how you blended both!

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