Pizza for Dinner
Saturday, December 27, 2003
Merry Christmas
and Happy Hanukkah and stuff. Here's my holiday gift to you. A link from my brother. It has some amazingly funny quotes and excerpts from warning labels.

I have one trip down and two to go. I had a good time at my Dad's but I was sorta cooped up in his apartment the whole time so I was glad to get out. He had to work a lot and so did my brother so I was left on my own much of the time. The rest of the time was mostly with my Dad. It's a little hard to handle your parents one on one for a day or evening at a time. I love my family but my parents think the whole world is against them and they should get whatever they want because they've had a job their whole adult lives. It's taxing after a while when they just refuse to think positive and say things like 'I know it snowed in upstate NY because I was there' or 'I got this bottle of wine from my boss, it's probably cheap.' Anyway, that's a whole lot of stuff I don't want to talk about. We had a good time and exchanged some great presents.

The next trip is the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and I'm really starting to get excited. It's going to be supersweet. I've never been to LA at all so just going around the city for a few days will be so much fun too. I leave again the day after I get back to Ann Arbor to go see my Mom in Tampa. Florida is the tackiest state ever, but at least it'll be warmer than up here. That should be a fun trip too. I'll update more later.

I'd like to spend some of my break playing guitar, ps2, and game cube and sitting around reading but it looks like that won't really be the case. I have some errands to take care of before I leave again and should do some lab work. I should actually go in today to freeze down some cells before they die. Anyway, I do have some time to relax today so I'm going to. So there. Just try to stop me. :-p
Monday, December 22, 2003
Stupidest Comment Ever
Today, on WWdN. Wil has a cold, one person advised him to see a doctor if the fever doesn't go down in a day because "A fever usually means an infection." Well, buh. He just told you he is sick. And, fyi from a pathologist in training, a fever ALWAYS means an infection. That's why it's there, because you have little microbes in your body that shouldn't be there. If you're going to be one of the countless comments on each of his posts (I don't read them unless I comment or unless I'm really interested in what others have to say about an aspect of the post) at least make them useful/interesting/funny. Efficiency is all I'm saying.
Good Riddance
Is what I have to say to classes. Next semester I have my department seminar, which is graded, research, and prelim preparation and takage. Enough to keep me busy, certainly, but at least I won't be interrupted to go to class anymore.

Let me explain at which point I became disgruntled with my course work. I enjoy my research and my directly related class material very much. I don't know what I'm going to do exactly when I get the PhD, but I do know that for now this is what I want. This semester I had to take a 1 credit class that lasted a month and was all immunology. I don't do immunology, at least not at that scary of a level. I was told it was required, although the whiny girls that are the other students my year are somehow getting out of it. Commie bitches. This class I was very worried about as the lectures were insufficient for understanding the papers that we then had to analyze as a class (~8 people). The immunology students totally dominated discussion and even in my write ups I don't think I completely grasped the papers. At least not to my obsessive-compulisive-perfectionist desired degree. Amazingly, I got an A- in that class. Totally happy with that grade, but I learned little from the class itself so it was a lot of wasted time for me.

My cancer bio class started as my favorite. The material was applicable and interesting and I was understanding it since most was not new information. Yeah, then came the midterm. I actually did fine, at least 5 points above the mean. I was expecting to do better but I thought the take home final would put me back in solid A range. The take home final was evil. Pick a cancer, find 3 specific classes of genes associated with this cancer, find a drug targeted to one of them, explain the cancer progression, typical treatment, blah blah blah. It took a lot of research as the last half of the class was a crap shoot of whether the lecturer would show up and didn't offer much new information. Still, I thought I covered all the points they wanted fairly well but ended up with a B+.

The last class I had, besides seminar and my research (A's in both, w00t) was required. This class sucked from the beginning. Every two weeks we had one lecture and four papers to divide among 5 students. (The topics were not always interesting to me either.) This meant one person got a skip each module. We had to critically analyze the papers, not explain them, critically analyze them. The whiny commie bitches did not understand this difference. I really hope they did not do better than I did. I know that two other students in my classes are pissed about these grades, and they actually did the assignments right as well. As far as we can tell. We got no feedback on whether our presentations were adequate or not. The prof also neglected to explain how he'd fit 5 students' skips into 7 modules until a week or two before the final. The final itself was also poorly explained. So I got a B+ here too. I wonder if the profs of these classes will even give me my grades for my finals.

It's not so much the lack of feedback that bothers me it's the lack of instruction in general in many places. The last prof I mentioned didn't even show up half the time when the other lecturers were leading discussions, he totally didn't care. I know in grad school you have to figure things out for yourself but I don't think that extends to reading the minds of the lecturers to know what they want out of you.

Anyway, I'm not really upset I just wanted A-s minimum. I really think I earned it in at least one of the classes. And it's going against my perfectionist nature. But my GPA is still great.

Eh, at least it's done.

The posting will be sparse as I will be traveling the next two weeks to visit family and see the Rose Bowl. I promise stories when I get back.
Friday, December 19, 2003
Stumbly Clumsleton
I woke up this morning really dizzy. Couldn't-walk-straight-holding-onto-the-wall-to-stand-dizzy. I have no idea why. I went to sleep a few hours before well hydrated and fed and I have no diagnosed heart problems or brain tumors. Probably just a result of coming off a stressful week of finals.

At any rate, as a result I wasn't hungry for breakfast and instead opted to drink a lot of water. I did have lunch though and I'm doing fine now, with the help of the water, egg salad sandwich, and of course, granola bar. As a result of the water, I have taken many trips to the bathroom. On my last such trip I almost stopped dead in my tracks upon spying a bad of tostitos in the break room. I was glad to find homemade dip to go with it. Now, nachos with dip are a weakness for me. I say this like mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, egg rolls and every other appetizer known to man aren't weaknesses for me. And desserts. And meat. You get the picture. So I took the only nacho shard bigger than a nickel to try some of the dip. It is AMAZING. It has guac, refried beans, cheese, olives, onions, tomatos and possibly other foods mixed in. I was still left with the problem of no dipable nachos and a 3/4 full pan of dip. Obviously someone misplaced a decimal in their math. So I just spooned some dip into a cup, dumped in the nachos and mixed it up a bit. I am so smart! I am so smart! SMRT! I mean SMART.

Seriously though, it's wicked good and quells my 3-4 pm daily hunger.
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
I am geekier than you are
Unless you saw me yesterday, then it's a toss up. I spent the day watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It was fantastic. They showed the extended versions of the first two followed by Return of the King. Which, by the way, is an excellent movie. It is excellent both by itself and as an adaptation of the book. It was very faithful to the original manuscript making changes or deletions that function only to keep the movie at ~3 hours in length and move the story along. Some things that are written well can be shown just as well a little differently, you know?

At any rate, I was very pleased with the end of this series of films and was not at all tired of the characters by the time the third movie rolled around. It's a bummer there won't be a new one next winter though.

Anyway, I won't give away any spoilers but I will give a warning. If you haven't read the books you may want to stop reading here. And go read the books. Seriously. For the rest of you, remember Shelog the spider on Mount Doom? Ok, so you've probably also seen Harry Potter with the huge spider and all it's little spider children. The two spider scenes in this movie are a factor of 1000 worse. At least. For those of us who are terrified of spiders anyway. I was seriously in a little fetal ball this close to crying. So was Joe next to me, so I don't feel bad.

In summary, Return of the King is outstanding and may bring a tear to your eye in a few scenes. Spider is wicked scary.
Friday, December 12, 2003
Well played, Mr. Bush
Or not, as it were.

I make fun of my high school and the town in which it is located. A lot. The Nascar speedway. The teacher who accidentally stuck his hand in acid and liquid nitrogen on separate occassions (I won't limit this to two occassions). The kid who at 16 had a daughter, robbed the convenience store at the top of the street with two friends, a knife and a stick. Then got caught while on bail doing a B&E with his dad. All the pregnant girls. Driving 30 minutes to get to anything other than a grocery store or the McDonalds the kid in the class below me managed while in high school. Believe me, I could go on, and have.

But living there wasn't all bad. The town is rural, so it's actually pretty most of the year. And there's something nice about knowing who everyone is. And with a lot of time and a little effort I climbed to the top of my class and attracted enough attention and good will to get the scholarships I needed to go to a great college. Once you weed out the white trash and psychos Stafford has some very nice people that I am glad to have met. Even some of the white trash were sweet.

Unfortunately Stafford only makes the news when something bad happens. When my classmate drowned. When the smokers went on strike because the most of the bathrooms were closed for the majority of in-class time. When the student smoking area was taken away. The speedway. And now, when a 19-year-old private in the 82nd airborne was killed in Iraq. He wasn't a friend but I knew him years ago when he played soccer with my brother. Most of the many Stafford High grads that went into the military served their time in Iraq and came home safely, I suppose the town is lucky that more weren't hurt or killed.

I was never in favor of this war, I was and am not convinced it was warranted and many decisions since then have seemed to only cause more problems. Now it's literally hitting close to home and hurting people I care about.

Here are some local news links if you want more information.
Thursday, December 11, 2003
Ok, a quick check of the New York Times revealed this article. If you didn't think Kucinich was a crazy fuck before, maybe this running platform will help.
Back to work, again.
I kneel at your altar once more.

Yeah, so I'm trying to keep up with my research (which is going well, yay!) and do the research and writing for two take home finals this week. I'd really like to get the finals done by the end of the weekend so I can pump out experiments now that things are working. I have to fight the procrastination habit hard though. I get distracted by little errands and tasks that I have to do, but I also find myself reading blogs, learning to play my new guitar, and playing video games. I have banned myself from guitar and video games until tomorrow night. It's really tough, I just got the guitar and a gamecube (sweet deal, my dad gave me birthday money) so I want to play the new PS2 games I have and wind waker on the gamecube. And rock on. I know 6 notes on two strings (Hal Leonard instruction book) and Only in Dreams by Weezer. I should practice more to get faster and stuff but I guess passing class takes precedence.

Anyway, in true form I am procrastinating with this blog entry. I'll write again if I ever get my new laptop from Evan. Stupid MStores hasn't sent it yet. And craptop was nailed by the tech guys as having a virus so I've been installing a new virus detector and searching the drive all day. Seriously, it's been 4 hours since I installed the program and it started searching. It's also been 3 hours since I called the dental school about them charging me twice (two different prices) for the same procedure but they haven't gotten back to me yet. Apparently they decided my insurance wouldn't cover it afterall, which is crap. It totally should cover a filling in whole, I'm already pissed I had to pay 2/3s of the cost.

Anyway, I will get back to work now. Speaking of reading blogs, visit this site and scroll down to the bottom entry about quotation marks. I agree wholeheartedly.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003
The Who in the What Now?
Per Nessa's request, I have answered these 20 questions:
1. A body of water, smaller than a river, contained within relatively narrow banks? stream
2. What is the thing you push around the grocery store/supermarket? cart
3. A metal container to carry a meal in? lunch box
4. The thing that you cook bacon and eggs in? frying pan
5. The piece of furniture that seats three people? couch
6. The device on the outside of the house that carries rain off the roof? gutter
7. The covered area outside a house where people sit in the evening? porch
8. Carbonated, sweetened, non-alcoholic beverages? soda
9. A flat, round breakfast food served with syrup? pancakes
10. A long sandwich designed to be a whole meal in itself? Grinder, although I've been conditioned to say sub now. I do know how the term came about if you're interested. I learned it from a deli cup. :-)
11. The piece of clothing worn by men at the beach? bathing suit or swim trunks, women are bathing suit or swim suit
12. Shoes worn for sports? sneakers/running shoes
13. Putting a room in order? cleaning, when I was younger sometimes picking up
14. A flying insect that glows in the dark? firefly
15. The little insect arthropod that curls up into a ball? roly poly
16. The children's playground equipment where one kid sits on one side and goes up while the other sits on the other side and goes down? see-saw, I've heard teetertotter but not actually called it that
17. How do you eat your pizza? Yeah, not sure what this wants. In CT we have round pizzas that are square cut so I guess I eat it by holding the crust if there is one. There's one place near one of my houses that makes white pizza (no marinara) with red potatoes and broccoli and/or bacon. It sounds weird but it's really good. The seafood pizza at that place is too much though.
18. What's it called when private citizens put up signs and sell their used stuff? Tag sale, although I occassionally use garage sale. Tag sale, you know, cause the stuff is tagged with the price. Shut up I didn't come up with it.
19. What's the evening meal? Dinner, or supper according to my granpa.
20. The thing under a house where the furnace and perhaps a rec room are? basement

Honestly, I don't know what they were going after with some of these questions. Other terms that have given me trouble outside of New England are "package store" (liquor store) and the pronunciation of aunt. I do not say it like the insect. Also highway. I use this to refer to the road that is an interstate or such with exits and medians and possibly tolls. We do not have freeways out east. Also driveway, where you park your car at home. The large building for parking cars (where you have to pay if you live in a city like Ann Arbor) is a parking structure or parking garage. Oh, and the things that Leggs makes are nylons, maybe pantyhose. Although nowadays I wear stockings, which require garters. I think that's it. This has been an edition of regional semantics hosted by Meg. Funding was not made possible. ;-)

Friday, December 05, 2003
I am a Rock Star
I rock on.

Or I will shortly. I purchased a Fender Stratocaster. It's sweet. It's the 50th anniversary edition (used, 1996, FYI) I had to decide between that and drums but the guitar will fit in the apartment better. I still want to learn how to play the drums. It might be harder for me than the guitar but it'll be fun so I'll give it a whirl. I have some friends who could help me out with that. But anyway. I can't wait to get out of the lab and play a little tonight. Also my PS2 but that's another addiction entirely. I haven't played before so I need to learn the chords and stuff although Matt taught me a bit of Weezer's Only in Dreams. I'm not bad for having about 20 minutes of experience. I had a limited selection despite the huge array of guitars at the Guitar Center. Two asides, one---huge music stores like Guitar Center seem to hire people less excited about helping you out than the smaller stores, like Music Go Round. But since they had a sale and what I needed I went there. Two---Ford Road is NOT a slight right off Plymouth. I forgot my written directions but had remembered them. Mapquest TOTALLY LIED. It's a real, hard right. As is the right on 153 that was not mentioned in the directions. So yeah, I was driving a lot more than I had planned to. I also managed to get lost on the way back too, due to our ad libbing the directions.
Anyway, I was saying that I had to buy a special guitar. Because, as is clearly shown above and in many other posts on this blog, I am special. I mean that in both the straightforward and sarcastic interpretations. My left arm has a curved radius that prevents me from getting full rotation on my forearm and also makes it difficult to build up strength equal to my right arm. For these purposes it means I could not really hold down the strings with my left hand and had to buy a lefty guitar so I could hold with my right and pick with my left. It seems to work fine and is comfortable.
Anyway, I'm totally excited about this but I should get back to work and stuff. Oh, and my new laptop is coming next week. I asked my advisor for a computer that didn't suck and he bought me one. Yay. It's nice to have 5 research grants. (FYI, IBM thinkpad r40. I had no say in the computer but it's doubtless better than an HP so old it has Windows 98 and Lion King activity center installed on it.)
Monday, December 01, 2003
In Bradley "International" Airport on Saturday:
Beep beep beep
Me---Damn, I forgot to take off my shoes
Airport guy---Yup, they're Sketchers, step over here for you holiday wanding

That's probably one of the most impressively unintentionally dirty things said to me in the last few weeks. That and the mother in the supermarket who hit her cart into mine while blowing up a ball for her son. ("I guess I can't blow and drive at the same time.")

From my Despair calendar:
Dec 1---The NHL drops its 20-minute penalty for "slashing about the head" (1930)
Dec 2---Andrew Lloyd Webber is admitted to a hospital for ulcer treatment after listening to too much of his own music (1994)
Dec 6---Paul McCartney's film Give My Regards to Broad Street is released, reminding fans that he was not only one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century but also one of the worst screenwriters (1984)
Dec 12---The UN accepts John Rockefeller's gift of a six-block tract of Manhattan real estate for UN headquarters. What he received in return for the donation isn't specified (1946)
Dec 15---Walt Disney dies. Conspiracy theorists with a taste for bad puns insis that he was then submerged in liquid nitrogen and placed into a state of "suspended animation."
Dec 18---Ivan Boesky sentenced to three years in prison for engineering Wall Street's largest insider-trading scandel (1987)
Dec 21---FCC releases an order claiming that convicted hacker Kevin Mitnick isn't morally fit to be a ham radio operator. (2001)
Dec 24---Shooting begins on the pilot episode of "Star Trek" (1964)

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