My advisor gave us all a $25 gift certificate to Barnes and Nobles last month for the holidays. It was very nice of him. I haven't spent it until now, though, because that would require going to a bookstore. I have a few purchasing weaknesses but the one for books has always been rather strong. I tried my best to avoid staying too long or exploring the whole store but I still spent another $15 over the gift card.
So, my current reading list includes Al Franken's Lying Liars ..., Gibson's Pattern Recognition, Stephenson's Quiksilver, Dragon Reborn in the the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordon, Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card, a book on the 1918 Flu epidemic, a book on Darwin's life, personally and professionally, and the new stuff: the SI swimsuit issue, The Origin of Species by Darwin, which I haven't actually read yet, A Tale of Two Cities, and Maskerade, Feet of Clay and Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett.
My geekiness is unrelenting.
I was happy Thursday because I heard my neighbor in the other building having sex, twice in one night. Well, that was a little icky but I was happy because I didn't hear his psycho bitch girlfriend. They fight all the time, I was so happy when she moved out but apparently they're back together but not living together. This has kept the shakination of my apartment to a minimum. Also the waking me up at all hours. Although the other ass monkeys in my building still find joy in slamming the doors and stomping up the stairs repeatedly for hours every Sunday morning. Anyway, I hear her whining again. Argh.
Speaking of ass monkey neighbors, it looks like someone else is moving in/out across the hall again. Or at least doing a heck of a lot of rearranging. This is at least the third set of neighbors I've had over there. None of them have said hello. I have a very unsocial building. The family on the second floor is afraid of me, except for the little girl. Everyone else runs away when someone else is in the hall. I know they're med students but they could be a little social.
Also, I saw a Jessica Simpson music video yesterday on GASP MTV. It was like 4am so they were actually playing music videos. Besides the fact that I kinda liked the song (With You, I think it's called) which is embarrasing, I liked the video. She made fun of herself like she and Nick did on SNL. She was eating tuna at one point, buffalo wings at another. She had a t-shirt on that said Plata-ma-pus for a while. It amused me. It was late.
And I highly recommend Club Dread, from the makers of Supertroopers. HIlarious. It's a spoiler but I have to say it because it's still making me laugh. Peenalope.
I guess. At least I can speak french. That fits.
Life's been really rough, but it's slowly improving. You know
way too much about the skeletal structure of humans, mostly from being forced to study
it. This has given you a fear of many things, most especially the color red.
The future has to be more promising though, and your greatest adversary can now
never come back to hurt you any more.
the Country Quiz at the href="http://bluepyramid.org">Blue Pyramid
Gibson's really lost it.
There are many stressors in my life, including but not limited to my PhD program/research/satan, lack of money, family, and the seemingly endless parade of unemployed needy mcdesperates that believe we are star crossed lovers because we're from the same state or I have nice socks and actually get angry with me for not jumping into their stalker arms. I'm not claiming to be the only person with stress and I do handle it well most times. Once in a while there will be something that manages to get past the defenses and cause me to freak out for anywhere from 15 minutes to several days. Maybe it's a straw that broke the camel's back type situation or maybe there's a susceptibility linked to my cycle or sleep schedule. At any rate, I've done many things to keep my stress/frustration level in check and attempt to focus on the task at hand. One of these things is plaster my desk in the lab with amusements. This works nicely with the short attention span/need to multitask aspect of my personality.
Here's an idea, keep in mind this doesn't include the things I have to do my work:
my cell phone
my nalgene bottle, usually emptied and refilled by the time I leave
coffee, one serving a day
empty bottles of cherry coke, arizona green tea with ginseng and honey and the like
a photo of my old dog as a puppy (she was the only family pet we had and was a great dog, I'll link photos on the right soon)
a copy of the weirdest warning labels ever
a piece of paper stapled into a cone from when pat had popcorn but no way to share it
two fortunes that I actually like (You emerge victorious fromt he maze you've been travelling in; Your happy heart brings joy and peace where there is none)
a curious george 'i love to read' name tag
articles on the link between fellatio and low breast cancer risk, catholic school girls pummelling a flasher on recess, electron band structure in germanium my ass (from someone's website), and the onion's study finds jack shit
my political compass
an onion infographic on a day in the life of ben and j. lo
a tmol Q&A with michael on romance
my despair calendar
a print out of an anomaly from one of the machines
a photo of matt and sanjay (I totally wanted to get some nessa and dave photos at Gracie's, remind me and we'll get some this weekend)
comics from penny arcade, diesel sweeties, and piled higher and deeper (the evil men and microsoft girl call from PA, the "passed rad and cruising full speed into awesome" from DS and the deciphering academese from PHD)
my lunch, or the remains thereof
When this fails I'm reading blogs or comics. Or maybe doing a crossword. I actually am quite productive most days despite what it seems.
Spring what? Dammit!
This week is "spring" break here at UofM. It is not spring but there is a break nonetheless. The problem I have is that this doesn't affect me in the least as a grad student. My seminar is cancelled (the one without food) but between President's Day and going to St. Louis I haven't been to that in a while anyway. So at least a dozen times this week and last I've had a "oh it's spring break, right" moment. Usually this is after an inquiry as to my travel plans or an explanation by others for theirs. It does affect me, it turns out, because my workout facility is closed. The only one open on campus is the one I can't park near. I could walk from the lab but that would require stuffing my bag into a locker and walking around the giant construction zone. Well, probably two or three giant construction zones since the major one outside my window is blocking the only shortcut by the others. I really need to get back into working out. I even dressed in warm ups today to make myself go as soon as I got out of the lab. I've been doing stretches and ab work every couple days at home but they just don't burn enough calories or give me a cardio workout. It's above freezing, maybe I can get a mile run in outside before I wimp out.
I predict that I run half a mile before coming back home to stretch, shower and watch buffy now that I have (temporary) possession of the dvds.
Do you have my brain or do I?
Nessa and I went shopping this afternoon. We had already realized we had a psychic connection but it was in full force today. Nessa came to pick me up and we saw we were wearing the exact same thing. And when we were in the stores there were a handful of times when we said "oh my god" (in the good way or bad) and turned around to see the other holding the same garment. And then we both realized we were on a sugar low at the same time. There were probably other examples of our psychic link but Nessa must be using our brain now.
I did well and only purchased one thing today. I bought a pair of pants from American Eagle for $12. Fantastic deal. They're super comfortable and stylish. They're described as "extreme low rise with military inspired details" from the surplus/from then for now collection. I don't think women in the US army really wore pants like these in November of 1977 (no idea where that date came from, but they grabbed it and ran) but we should consider it for a super sexy secret task force.
(Sharp Inhale) Aaaaaaaaaaah
So I read a short story by Chuck Palahniuk of Fight Club fame last night. It was the closest to vomiting I've ever gotten by reading. Except when I read in the car, but that's for totally different reasons. I wanted to stop reading but I couldn't, I got so far, it couldn't possibly get worse. Ha. I want to say don't ever read "Guts," but you should read it. If reading something without experiencing it is possible. So if you have a high threshold for the like of blood, and well, guts, (as I previously thought I did) then read it. If you like Chuck's work and are curious, read it. But be warned. This isn't like Kill Bill Vol. 1 where the ick factor is humorous so blood spouting from a decapitated body is funny.
If you've already read this then you know what I mean. And stay the hell away from my ass.
Last night I saw a red corvette convertible in the parking lot. With a jesus fish on the back. Forget for a moment that this person desecrated a corvette with a fancy bumper sticker. (For the record, I am not a fan of any bumper stickers or the like on cars. My parents thought it was tacky and dramatically reduced the value/integrity of your car and I agree.) Does anyone else think it's a little incongruous for someone who is that strongly christian to have a fancy red corvette? Not that one should live like Mother Theresa to be truly christian, but it seems like a bit much of an indulgence for someone who still has to live at my apartment complex. Come to think of it, it was parked in the handicapped space without the proper plates, too.
I think I'd like to meet this person, it could be interesting. Or at least know their story. Actually I'd like to meet anyone with a corvette. You know, so we can become friends and I can drive it.
So I got a package from my dad today. It's important to say up front that I like everything (with one exception that's rather random) but the contents as a whole are very interesting to share. He basically picks things up at random and ships them when they fill a box. Without further ado, here they are:
a long sleeve goretex running shirt
a black bud light t-shirt
the know-it-all edition of trivial pursuit (sans board)
the biographies edition of trival pursuit (sans board)
3 CDs I ordered from BMG or Columbia House (Beyonce, Dido and Cake)
a box of garlic basic thai rice
two packages of organic coffee (java love and breakfast blend)
organic shells and white cheddar
minestrone soup mix with spoon/trowel
garlic tomato basil pasta and dip blend
vermont chardonnay herb blend (recommended as a dip or stir fry blend)
spicy garlic dill dip
cheesecake tiramisu mix
anyone for chips and dip?
No one's perfect
But you can put your children first.
This article basically says women are conflicted and guilty when faced with how to balance family and a career. This is something I've had to think about for a while, not because I have children but because I'd like to someday and thinking about my career path now is important. The problem is simple to solve. One, you probably have a husband/father figure for the children. If you decide together to have a child, work out beforehand who works and who stays home, who takes sick days, etc and anything else pertinent to your situation. The person who can take the sick day with the least penalty should probably care for the sick kid, for example. I don't mean decide that one person always takes the hit, necessarily, but say, well, we'll decide on a daily basis who can skip work that day for the following reasons. This is the same for all marriage issues, just look at nessa's wedding blog for those guidelines.
Two, you don't have to have children and a career. You can, but one will likely suffer at least a little. Sorry the femnazis didn't make this clearer. Pick what's more important and go with it. If that means no children, don't be pressured to have children. If that means you don't have a glory job, take pride in the fact that you are someone who is devoted to raising the children they bring into this world. Most decisions probably won't be so lopsided, you can likely have a satisfying career with a family.
Maybe this is a little too cut and dry for some people's taste but you basically have to live by your decisions. This is not to say once you decide something it can never be undone, but if you think you neglect your children, spend more time with them and less on the job. Or if you decide you want children afterall, change careers. Society can make it easier to do both but they're not responsible for your regret.
Bambi x 3
As I pulled into the parking lot by the NCRB today a pedestrian pointed toward the parking lot. My first thought was that she was pointing out an available spot. I was excited, there's rarely parking available in that lot after 5:30. I was confused why she would do this, but thought well of her nonetheless. Turns out she was actually pointing to 3 black tail deer milling about the edge of the lot by the trees. Perhaps they were loitering. It was cool, I was not expecting a bunch of deer on campus. The sauntered across the street and went on their way. This may mean that there are too many deer in the area and some will starve before spring, but hopefully it just means that north campus is rural enough for deer these days. I'd believe that. It had been a while since I saw deer and Connecticut has only white tail deer. Deer are deer, but still, it was neat.
I'm just a girl
While in a drunken haze last week in St. Louis, we saw a commercial for the No Doubt singles CD. I promptly went on amazon.com and bought it. It was only $10, although the shipping was another $3. Matt was slightly less drunk than I and pointed out after that I should have purchased another CD to get a better shipping to purchase ratio. I had sorta thought of this, but none of the recommended CDs appealed to me and for some reason searching for others or thinking of them seemed too hard. If only the suggestion had come sooner. I am highly open to suggestion; for example, matt's mention of fried chicken on his blog has instilled enough craving in me over the weekend to plan on making spicy fried chicken tonight.
But I digress. As I often do.
The CD is fabulous. A few of the tracks were new to me but it had all their great singles. I was momentarily sucked back into early high school when tragic kingdom was released and realized I have had a bit of a girl crush on gwen stefani for a while. I'm not sure if the songs were all redone (note, not remixed) or if they were original recordings, I'll have to check when I get back home, but I want to say they redid them all. Usually you can hear a change in a group/artist's voice and music over time as they fine tune their style but I didn't so much get that from this album. The music itself had an evolution, much like the simpson's animation, but gwen stefani sounded like she does now. There wasn't a clear difference between their latest single and Spiderwebs, for example. Except for the nostalgia-inducing factor.
So I recommend buying this or getting me to burn it for you if you ever liked No Doubt. It's definitely like Dave Matthews' Band's Crash, where the whole CD is great and you don't find yourself skipping huge chunks of it. Maybe a track or two after the second or third time through.
Back to work. Still waiting on prelim chair to get back to me about meeting.
I just got an e-mail from the prelim committee chair saying he had problems with my submitted abstract. Basically, he thinks one of my aims is already done (I want to take it further) and that it's too close to what my advisor does. For the record, they said we could write a faux grant similar to the lab's research but not anything we actually study. Which is what I did. I think he's just pissed I did the abstract without talking to him. Whatever, we'll meet asap, if I have anything to say about it. Hopefully I won't have to completely redo my research so that I can stay on track without cramming for a week.
We're not groupies
From my earliest memory of being injured until about the early 90s I hated bandaids. To the point of refusing to use one unless I was still bleeding. The reason is very simple: they were ugly. Bandaids in the 80s did not have cartoon characters on them, they were not clear or waterproof. They were not made of flesh colored breathable synthetic material. They were huge, brown, carpet-like monstrosities that came off as soon as they were wet and left a ring of sticky dirt and fuzz that took quite a bit of effort to remove. They also stood out from a mile away on my clear, irish skin. I'm sure this was frustrating to my mother as I was a very stubborn child. No one was happier than I when Bandaid made an effort to produce a discrete, effective product. I actually like some now. The waterproofing is great for being in the lab (I was my hands frequently) and even the standard bandaid is a little more natural and comfortable. A little effort can go a long way.
I'm reading a manuscript with an author named Sandy Beach. Not Sandra Beach. Sandy Beach. You and Rachel Dratch seriously should have changed your names before going public.
Two for one special
(as in two posts for one request)
Ok, I don't like to rant about the post doc bitch on my blog or even that much in person but sometimes things need to be shared. For background, my major problems with her fall into two categories. One, she tells me one thing one day and another the next, insisting it was always the latter so I look like a moron to my advisor when things don't work. This also includes ignoring me when I say specifically what I've done and oking the experiment then months later saying something had been wrong all along and, I suspect, messing with my experiments when I'm not around. Hell, I know she does that as she comes over with cells or plate in bare hands saying, I was just looking at your blah blah blah and ... Most of this has been discussed with the advisor although I think he sees our interaction as a personality dispute and not her trying to look better than me instead of teaching me. The other category is the 'ask random questions she should know persistently' category. This includes asking me how to repeat my experiment when I've had problems for long enough that she deigns to do bench work at our advisor's request to find the problem. It isn't just "where is this antibody" it's "how do you do this experiment." Or, did you get a hotel room for the conference yet? Oh, weeks ago, there probably aren't rooms left. Oh. Next day she talks to my advisor and asks if she can triple up with me and Lauren since she messed up. Haven't heard the final word on that yet. Anyway, so long story short she lies to me and uses me to make herself look special when she really does very little work at all and is helpless. I don't know who she used to get her PhD before me, but she did get her PhD in this lab doing research on this topic so doing a 20 month+ post doc in it isn't the best way to start your career. Anywho, the following exchange occurred not long ago:
Satan: cuse me Me(g) (she never says the g, which annoys me since I have a thing about people saying and spelling my name correctly. it's not that hard, even for foreigners.)
Satan: On your computer do you have a network card? (she was so pissed I got a new computer because my old one was so crappy she bitched out my advisor for one even though she's leaving soon. her old computer, last i saw, was better than mine. and it had a direct wall to computer ethernet connection, no dongle, this is important.)
Me: No, the ethernet cord goes straight from the wall to the back of the computer [motions to wall and back of computer]
Satan: [leans in closer to look] Ooooh, so it's built in?
Me: Yes, there is no network card or dongle.
[leaves for a moment, comes back carrying the cord to use the modem]
Satan: It only came with this one. It's for the phone right?
Me: Yes, there is another slot right next to that one on the back of the computer that's larger and is for the ethernet cable. It goes right from the wall to the back of the computer.
[leans in to look again]
Satan: So do I have to buy this one?
Me: No, if you used the internet before you should already have one. (I'm thinking to myself, you have the same wall jack and cord I do, why is this unfamiliar to you in any way?)
Satan: Oh, ok, I'll go look for that.
I think she just wanted to let me know that she got a new laptop too.
I haven't felt like updating since the drunk post (bit stressed out) but since Nessa asked I shall compose this schlock for you, my friend. :-)
St. Louis was great even when I wasn't drunk. We visited the Anheiser-Busch brewery, which resulted in tipsiness due to free samples, and the arch, which resulted in a reminder of my fear of heights. This is only a problem when I think I can fall so it's more a fear of falling from a great height. Oh, and visiting the museum at the bottom of the arch is a must see for anyone with a proper english fetish. Louis and Clark have horrible grammar and spelling. Misspelling the same word two different ways in the same paragraph, capitalizing randomly, it's as if they went to school for about 3 years between them. It is a little surprising to think of historical figures that way, but I can understand how they got to be explorers without great writing skills. Anyway, I'll try to get some of those pictures up on the photo link. I must also say that Illinois is flat and empty. And every farm house is painted white. It seems the land of Lincoln put all its effort into Chicago, which was nicely done, to be fair.
We won the freakout game against Clarkson, which was fantastic. It was a good game; Clarkson was ahead by two for a while then we came back to tie it up. In the third period we gained the lead and secured the win with a late-period open-goal score. Besides Matt, Sam and me, there were only two other RPI people there from the classes of '61 and '73, or something like that. With their wives. I'm just assuming the wives didn't go to RPI, at least not in those times. The Clarkson crowd was larger though and some of the guys were fun to chat with. It seems I invariably get asked what I do whenever I meet new people (not too surprising) and I've taken to responding with something like, "I'm getting a PhD and my research is on prostate cancer." Sometimes I say cancer biologist or simply grad student. I sometimes feel a little uncomfortable telling people what I do, especially if the person is my hair dresser or someone. I don't want to sound pompous and I know some people might read some of that into what I say regardless of how I say it since my own family will do that from time to time and they should know me better. I guess my innate awesomeness is too much for most people to handle. Or that's the interpretation I'm going with. I certainly don't flaunt it. Lauren (from my lab) and I had this discussion a few days ago, we don't wake up in the morning saying "I'm going to cure cancer today, gee whiz aren't I special." We wake up and want to stay in bed because it's Michigan and it's cold and snowing. Or we don't want to deal with Satan. Or spend all day on something that will not work or have to be redone. Such is the reality of experimental research, we feel stupid most days.
So the other uncomfortableness in telling people about my research is telling middle aged to older men about my research. I've recently taken a nonchalant attitude about this since conversations have turned inappropriate more times than should embarrass me now. They always respond with a variant of "great, get back in the lab, now" or some finger gesture. I try to mention the blood test for PSA, a marker for prostate cancer, in the hopes they will spread the word and stop with the fingers. I also sometimes get into a lecture about foods that help prevent prostate cancer or the significance of the disease but I try to keep these brief.
Oh, and I've coined a new phrase. You know when you see two cop cars parked next to each other facing different directions? That is now a cop 69 (tm). Use it for awesome only.
(peter griffin laugh)
ok, totally plastered. yet maintaining grammar. gin rocks. Other things I would never say sober.
I'm spreading like the plague across the US
create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide
19 states or 37%
Run Lola Run
I don't have much to post about but I'm going to St. Louis on Friday to watch the RPI freakout game broadcast to a satellite tv in a bar somewhere and don't want a week to go by between posts. A friend from RPI is actually in St. Louis so it'll be some visit Sam time too and not just a random trip. I could also talk about satan's latest infractions but I'd rather not.
Instead, shopping! I went out with Nessa tonight in the hopes of finding decent wedding shoes. There were none. In the whole mall. There were many other shoes I wanted to buy, though, but I managed to keep it to a new pair of running shoes. I last bought some about a year and a half ago and have logged a lot of gym time in them since so it's time for a new pair. I went with New Balance this time, breaking my Nike/Adidas streak. They're pretty comfy and are mostly grey and blue with some white so they hopefully won't look dingy that quickly. I'll try to get to the gym tomorrow to give them a whirl on the track.
I also wanted to buy some skirts and tops that were pretty inexpensive but nothing I tried on really looked good on me. The cute top I found was not made for anyone with any kind of rack at all and I felt like I would spontaneously burst out and flash Nessa at any moment. There were a lot of skirts there that I liked but needed to have a large flower/bow removed before I could comfortably wear them. It's not that I dislike flowers/bows attached to clothing outright, it's just that some are WAY too huge or VERY inappropriately placed. So I just got a nice white cardigan there. I need one for a wrap over summer dresses (ie, I want to wear them in the spring too) so it was another practical purchase. Not that that's a bad thing.
On guitarin and fish
I finally saw Finding Nemo this weekend. It really was a great movie. I'm not sure about how appropriate the movie is for young children though, a few parts were rather scary and the poor fish just gets hit with one hardship after another. I mean, the end is really happy but the kids wouldn't know that if they pulled a Phoebe and ran away crying and fed up half way. If you have school age kids though it could be a great family movie. Ellen DeGeneres is hysterical, as are many other characters---like the seagulls (mine?).
I also went to see Big Fish. I really enjoyed this movie. It definitely falls into the class of films I would actually pay to see again in the theater. My eyes welled up with tears once or twice and I left the theater feeling upbeat. Rarely does a movie affect me so. I don't really know where to start; the parts are well acted, the story is interesting and told very well, there are plot lines that would turn sappy in most directors hands that aren't. I won't spoil anything but if you have the chance to see this movie I'd take it.
On a completely different note but related since I practiced this weekend, I love my guitar. I think I learned enough notes and a few chords that I'm learning things faster now. I wouldn't say I'm good yet but I can play a few songs in the book. Like Amazing Grace and Yankee Doodle, but still. You have to start somewhere. It just feels like I broke through a bit of a barrier and built up enough of a base that not every note is new when I come to a new song. I'm a rockstar, you know it.
It's Ground Hog Day!
I think the little rodent is going to see/not see his shadow today, whatever means spring is coming. I mean, spring has to be early this year, it's downright balmy today. Well, ok, it's still below freezing and with the wind I need my hat and gloves but it's at least 10* warmer than it has been.