Pizza for Dinner
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
I just realized that a few commercials I've been watching (by which I mean not really) that I thought were for AOL were actually for NetZero. I'm no advertising whiz, but I'd bet that rule #1 is something to the effect of "do not mention competition's product first/more often than your own."

Monday, November 29, 2004
My Onion Headline Writing Tryouts
Julia Roberts gives birth to own great-grandparents!

Ok, that's a little mean. Maybe a lot mean considering she could be more down-to-earth than most Hollywood stars. She just never set right with me. Perhaps it was all the hoopla over what a great hooker she makes, but how hard is it to fall in love with wealthy Richard Gere and not fumbling Jason Alexander? And I just don't like the name Hazel because my eyes are hazel and no one ever guesses the color right. My second grade teacher didn't even believe me that it was a real color, she put me in the green column. I'd have preferred blue eyes but I'm working the hazel just fine now.

Anyway, naming kids crazy stuff has to cool down a notch. Pilot Inspektor. Rumor. Cogean. These kids will never have a bicycle license plate and if they have any sense in them at all will feel a little embarrassed filling out their first W2. I suppose actor's kids might get away with sliding into show business themselves but normal people are also guilty of weird names. Some different names are fine, for example alternative spellings of a name. Or a feminization of a masculine name. Or the less popular masculinization of a feminine name. Or, like Phinneaus, proper for ancient Greece or a Civil War reenactment. At least it's a real name. I think. Either that or it's catching on.

Trust me, I'm not overreacting. My name is Meghan. You have no idea how much trouble that one h is. Does it go before the g or after? Is there an h at all? Does that mean your name is pronounced Meegan or Maygan? My mom still sends me pencils and stuff with my name on it just because it exists. Don't get me wrong, I like the h in my name, I think it's the best spelling alternative, but it is easier to go by Meg.

I can't even imagine having to introduce yourself as Scout or Balthazar. I guess they're rich so people will like them anyway, but what do you do for a nick name? I'm not totally unsympathetic, I do want to name my daughter Aisling (pronounced Ashlene. It's Irish, like me, and unless I marry a man with many homozygous dominant features it's likely my kids will look Irish too. Freckles, pale complexion, possibly red hair. If not that then the sweet liquor tolerance will tip people off to their heritage. My granpa has enough Tropicana Twister--in the old, square glass bottles--sitting in his spare room that by the time I have kids and they throw parties at my house while we're away most of it will have turned to moonshine. If my brother doesn't get to it first.) and I have a few equally Irish names on tap for the middle name, but I can do that because it's my heritage. Or at least 3/4 of it.

But, I've never been pregnant so I guess I don't know what it's like to have the overwhelming urge to name your kid this beautiful name you dreamt of that you later learned was a combination of a cleaning product and a realty company. That's probably why I'm trying to get ideas in my head now, long before the fact.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Uh, are you sure you want to do that?
I got a haircut yesterday evening. The place I go to is very much designed for college students: walk-ins only, some of the lowest prices in town (still a bit much) and a quick turn around time. This works well for me because I am poor and don't really want to spend an hour getting a trim. The ladies are nice although I don't have a regular person so any conversation is always casual banter. Although she really liked my shoes and skirt yesterday, which I also think are totally cute.

Anywho, this is all to set up the background you need to understand why she asked me if I wanted a blow-dry and styling. Some places have that as a standard, my place charges a bit extra. I looked outside and said I wanted to make sure it wasn't raining yet, as it was supposed to last night and I didn't have an umbrella. It wasn't, so I gave the go ahead. She said she has girls come in with hair half way down their back that ask for a blow-dry and style when it's raining (I'm assuming they also did not have umbrellas). Not only is it $15 extra for hair that length, but your hair will get soaked almost immediately. We didn't understand why someone would do this. I guess if your parents are giving you money you might not care about the extra cost, but it takes a LONG time to dry that much hair, trust me. Why would you waste money and at least a half hour of your time for a styling that will last 8 seconds? I guess if you wanted to kill time before class, but there are better places to do that on that street. I guess I just think it's weird.

Monday, November 22, 2004
Gold Star!
I was told to give myself two gold stars, actually.

Today I saved the lab from exploding, again.

Yes I'm totally serious. Twice.

The first time, a little over a year ago and just under a year in this lab Satan came running over to my area of the lab and asked us if we had anything boiling. We said if it's over by the other hood, it's Dr. Die's (aka Dr. Contamino) and we hadn't seen him in at least an hour. She said no, it wasn't over there. Sure enough, it was over there and it was Dr. Die's. So instead of stopping this mystery solution from boiling over she stood on the other side of the room after running over and left anyone else to handle it. I became anyone else. And since way too much time in the land of boiling mystery chemicals had passed the solution wasn't just in danger of boiling over but was boiling over profusely and producing copious amounts of a noxious fume. So bad the Advisor told us to leave the lab for a while and get a snack in the hospital. When the Advisor says not to work, you should be concerned.

So I risked burnination and chemical gaseous poisoning because one person in the lab is sloppy and another can't get up to do her own work most of the time, never mind take care of someone else's responsibility. It was fine, I did not get hurt, and it makes for a good story. Much like I thought we could only melt nalgene plastic designed for the autoclave in the autoclave once, I did not think the lab was in danger of exploding again.

Enter Worst Dentist Ever. We have a student in the lab that is a licensed dentist and is getting her masters in an epidemiology program. She is not only completely inept with her hands (she cut herself with scissors while cutting paper, the general consensus is not to let her near our mouths with a drill.) but she asks DUMB questions. You hand her something and tell her it's A and she immediately asks you if the tube is A. I've only had to work with her a little so I'm getting a lot of this second hand but it really is amazing that she graduated high school, nevermind dental school. Seriously. Give talking to her a whirl.

So this is the person who got in the hood to do cell culture. Now, last time she was EVER SO CAREFUL to keep her pipettes in the hood, since the time before she took them out and broke the wall of sterility but then she looked at her cells under the microscope and took the lid off, completely unaware of the fact that she just exposed her cells to unsterile air, defeating the whole purpose of the hood. It's one thing to forget and be dumb and take the lid off, but you usually realize what you did is wrong. She had no concept of this. But I digress, again. Today she kept her cells sterile, I presume, but instead of turning on the vacuum to aspirate the media off her cells she turned on the gas. We think she didn't notice that there wasn't a tube with a pipette connected to it stuck over the gas nozzle because the tube stuck to the vacuum nozzle was on and she was able to aspirate her cells. So after lunch I walk back to my desk and smell gas. I ask Sars Boy if he smells gas, he says no like I'm an idiot. Like it personally offended him. I checked the nozzles on the bench, they were all off. We eventually walked into the tissue culture room and realized the gas was on in the hood. Thankfully so was the blower. Although the light was off so I pity the person who went to turn it on before we found out the room was full of gas. One tiny spark and we could've had serious trouble. It's a good thing no one was using the bunson burner at the time.

Anyway, I gave myself two gold stars. Although my favorite part of the day was actually when a guy in the lab was trying to explain to Zero Code what his t-shirt meant: I Got Crabs in Maryland. We totally steered clear of the real meaning and took to a debate about fresh water v. salt water crabs. It didn't help explanations that the picture on his shirt wasn't of any of those crabs.

Thursday, November 18, 2004
I've figured out how to keep Christmas from taking over the entire year. The secret lies in apple cider versus egg nog. As long as apple cider is being sold it will remain fall. As long as egg nog is sold it will be Christmas. The nifty thing is that the border line between the two drinks is Thanksgiving and I think it's the perfect measure of separation of the ThanksChristmaHanukaKwanzaka season. (Totally took that from a commercial. Well, I think the Thanks part may have been my addition.) Stores will always sell seasonal candy and decorations early, I'm certain drug stores will have Valentine's Day candy out as soon as the new year comes (seriously, I worked in a drug store over winter break once, I put out the candy before I left) but as long as we have apple cider and egg nog there will be some separation.

On a completely unrelated note, my retired uncle has taken to spamming his relatives with forwards. The am one today was a Dave Barry list of things he took 37 years to learn. Number 13 was my favorite as it rings very true. Not that never licking a steak knive isn't also true, but you'll see what I mean. The observation was that if a person is nice to you but rude to a waiter, they are not a nice person. I'll have to put it into practice but it could be a decent litmus test of whether a person is truly nice or putting on a facade. I just thought it was an interesting and succinct way of learning a lot about someone. My psychology interests are piqued.

Monday, November 15, 2004
Consider Yourself Human Jetsam
Can anyone say jumping ship?

As they say, high turn-over between administrations may not be unusual but the difference of opinion resignations (Bush asking people to leave who disagree with his policies, embarass his administation, people leaving out of distaste for the president's policies, etc, not resignations of a personal matter) may reflect how the country as a whole feels. The post-mortem the Democrats did two weeks ago suggest that "moral" issues decided this election, while most people would argue that the more Christian stance is tolerance and not fear and rejection. This combined with Bush's feeling that he was placed by God in the Oval Office (is he an Egyptian god or something? I'm going to call him Rah from now on.) and that separation of church and state is something the founders got a bit wrong (he hasn't said this but it's a valid interpretation of his faith-based initiatives, etc) are probably the cause some of the upheaval in the administration. Well, at least it sounds like Powell's had enough of the making mistakes but not admiting it crap. Probably because he's been made to take the heat a few times. I wonder what we'll see out of Congress when the new session starts. Will Republicans toe the party line and become stalwart partisan bipartisans or will they consider what half the country believes to be reasonable actions and values? I am tempted to go with the former, although I'm not a political analyst so I don't spend a heck of a lot of time thinking about this. Speaking of which, back to meeting deadlines.

Friday, November 12, 2004
Current Reading
After reading an editorial in the NY Times I went to this page, which took me to this page. I won't really be able to read it until I get out of the lab but the summary on the first page provides enough highlights. Our president is awesome when it comes to civil rights. And pretzel eating.

Oh, I also recommend reading the editorials by Jimmy Carter and King Abdullah II regarding Arafat.

Natural and synthetic highs
Waking up early to run a few miles, do some pilates and stretches and then take a hot shower while your coffee is brewing so that the aroma wafts in around your shower curtain is a great way to start the morning. I'm finally starting to get some sort of runner's high while working out, more likely through persistance than increasing my distance since all through high school soccer practices I went adrenaline high-less, but I'll take it however it comes. I arrived at the lab content rather than desparately trying to pretend I'm still sleeping. I may have to make a practice of this since it buffered my frustration at sars boy and zero code's shenanigans this morning. Lab hijinks, now involving my thesis work (again)! I may have to talk to the boss again. Such a problem I am.

Thursday, November 11, 2004
Friends with Priviledges
Check out today's QC. Many of these comics (read the archives) ring very true with me. And to clarify, not all of my friends have ass grabbing priviledges, but a few do. And they're mostly women because a woman grabbing another woman's ass is fun and safe, a guy grabbing a woman's ass could be fun or it could turn awk-ward. (You're supposed to draw out both syllables while saying that.)

On a slightly related note, hopefully drinking half a 20oz of coke in the time it takes to read some webcomics and blogs is enough of a boost to help me through reading literature. Stupid post-lunch drowsiness.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Good Lord, No!
The world shall end in a ball of flame!

Not Renee! What will we do without her puckered smile or the constant references to her dedication to her craft by gaining and losing 40 lbs to play Bridget Jones?

I can forget that the Middle East is in deadly turmoil and that the leader of the free world was just elected based more on a firm handshake and "christian" values than on actual experience, integrity and ability to do the job. We may toss our foreign policy out the window, ruin the economy, throw away our access to fuel, and crap all over education and health care in this country but at least we're protected from middle easterners and gays. Tony Blair will get a nice firm handshake from Bush the next time they meet. Oh, and the guy from Poland too, don't forget Poland.

But without Bridget Jones and her blithe diary, I'll never be able to distract myself from reality enough to justify our actions!

Sunday, November 07, 2004
My eyes are balding
Well, not really. But I am losing a lot of lashes on a regular basis. You know how you get a lash in your eye and you do the combination of blinking and pulling it out of your eye and how sometimes you pull out a loose lash around you eye? Yeah, well I pull out 3 lashes at a time. Or 6. Or 8. I appear to still have normal eyelash coverage though so I don't know where they're coming from. The best part is that occassionally (read once a week) I'll get a lash stuck on my eye, which is not only tough to remove (see turkey story below for why I am an expert on this) but leaves my eye sore and blurry the rest of the day. I'm not sure if this is one of the 'anatomical variations' I keep finding out about at doctor and dentist visits or if there's some other cause. Oddly, it's mostly in my left eye. I hope that making a wish on an eyelash is proportional to the number taken out of the eye. ...

The Turkey Story
My senior year of college I decided to make a turkey dinner for friends before Thanksgiving. Turkey, pie, mashed potatoes, the whole thing. One day after my late night history class I was famished, so I made myself a quick turkey sandwich to tide me over until I could heat up more leftovers. I probably should've just ate the sandwich, but while Matt was carving the rest of the turkey off the carcass to put in tupperware I was ranting about my horrible history class.

See, we were assigned into groups that had to argue one point of one argument. We were given a preference list but because no one wanted to touch race issues with a 10-foot pole (it might have been my third preference, I can't remember now) I was assigned the argument of whether or not affirmative action has improved race relations in the US. And I was to argue the con side, that no it had not. So some guy, Tom Collins (or Cum Palace to Sanjay) and I developed a well cited argument that showed that while public schools and companies may be integrated by law many places existed in this country where racism was active. The state of inner city schools, the fact that minorities are underrepresented as CEOs, Rodney King etc. Clearly there was more evidence for improvement but we decided our best argument would be that on the surface things were better but racist people found other ways to take actions. Anyway, the other side posed the predictable argument in their presentation and then the discussion was opened to the class. One of my stalkers was in the other group and made things personal with me and most other people in the audience took the position of "I have a black friend here at RPI and that couldn't have happen without affirmative action so it must be completely effective." For the record, black students have always been admitted to RPI just as women always have, although the lack of applications would reflect the poor attendance until recent decades. This frustrated me because it was narrow minded anecdotal evidence used to basically make themselves feel better about being upper middle class.

Anyway, so that's what was going through my mind and mouth as I was eating. Then a tiny bit of turkey flew off the knive. I saw the turkey but my anatomically variant eyes did not blink. I had turkey in my eye. Not stuck to the outside of my eye or in my lashes but IN MY EYE. The turkey was moist enough to create some kind of evil surface tension that held it in my eye despite repeated, painful blinking. Next I tried using a moist Q-tip to pull the turkey out, fighting the surface tension at it's own game. That didn't work and led to screaming when the Q-tip touched my eyeball. Next I tried flushing out my eye. DO NOT flush anything out of your eye unless you have no other choice. This was much worse than the Q-tip. And also it did not dislodge the turkey. So at this point I started to panic. Every blink ripped turkey across my eye. I didn't want to go to the hospital and say I had turkey in my eye, never mind wait around for hours blinking. So I decided to just pluck it off my eye. Gently, I used my fingernails to grab the turkey without touching my eye. Then I went to bed. Yeah, it was like 9 or 10 but I was SO done for the day. So if you haven't heard the Turkey in the Eye story you have now, and you know why I am great at getting crap out of my eye.

Sperm in PNAS!
I just read this article in the NYTimes. I think I'll look for the cited article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it's pretty interesting. It's about sperm production and taking that outside the body to help infertile couples (by cultivating the stem cells).

Tuesday, November 02, 2004
stress ball
After I tell you I have to critique 3 grant applications by 7am, having received them at noon today (and having other work to do) how about you argue with me about how a cap on lawyer's profit from medical malpractice suits will allow doctors to go unchecked and malpractice to continue and then ask me why I don't call you sometime even though you know I e-mail and am very busy and don't always have an hour to spare on the phone. Thanks mom, the way to tell someone you love you care is to ask them why they aren't doing more for you.

To be fair, she isn't the only person/situation making the unavoidable stressors in my life worse and she does do the guilt thing to my brother every time she calls him. So, you know, she's not playing favorites or anything.


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