Saturday, September 24, 2005

Two days of Sweet Briar-y goodness


The past two days have been very, very good (and there's still one more today!) So I drove down Thursday morning, and got to the 'Briar around 2. Had an hour to kill before I could check into my hotel, so I decided to see who I could find. I ended up talking to Chaplain Brewer, John Beck (Chemistry) and Dave Orvos, my old research advisor. He was very pleased to see the copies of the two journal articles I had published.

After that, I headed to Lynchburg to check in and had about an hour or so of downtime before I had to head back. I was extremely pleased to find out that Super 8 now offers high-speed wireless internet! So I've had internet access the whole time I've been here without having to seek out a computer lab on campus. Very nice.

I went back for the opening dinner, which was a Mediterranian-themed appetizer spread - shrimp, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, tomato bruchetta, seasoned finger potatoes, etc. It was super. Then the Brian Greene lecture was that evening, and he is an incredible speaker. I hadn't read any of his books, but it turned out that I had seen some of his NOVA special (because I recognized some of the graphics he used). He was also funny, which I didn't expect from a quantum physicist. Basically, his work deals with string theory (the idea that matter has smaller definable parts than quarks that are called "strings," and that the different vibrations of the strings cause them to be different quarks). String theory (yet unproved, as he was very clear to point out) solves the problem of unifying quantum mechanics with Newtonian physics (I think I'm getting this right...) under *all* conditions, but requires that our universe has 9+ dimensions. Very interesting stuff.

Friday I got up at 8am (I'm trying to maintain some semblance of a schedule) and forced myself to work out. While the internet connection was good, the exercise room left something to be desired. The options were a stair-stepper, a bike, and a treadmill. Now I love me some treadmill, but the motor was broken so the belt didn't move. And I am completely inept at the stair-stepper (I don't know what's wrong with me...I start out okay for about 10 seconds and then just sink, and it's embarassing to be clanking against the bottom with each step). So that left the bike, but it ended up being an okay workout.

I had my only official "workshop" on Friday morning - training for Alumnae Admissions Representatives (of which I am one for my state). Then another swanky lunch to honor the Silver Rose Society (people who have given consistantly to the college for 25 years...I only have 23 more to go!) and the Williams Associates (people that have named Sweet Briar in their wills).

Founders Day convocation was next, and it was okay. The speaker was meh, and it was sooooo hot outside for the walk up to the monument. But it was nice, and there was a picnic afterwards. Then they had cocktails and an open house out in Guion (for the uninitiated, that's the science building where I spent a good portion of my life from Sept. 99 - May 03). It was neat to see all the new equipment and labs, and learn about all the research that's going on there now. They still talk about us recent grads as well :-)

The last thing I did on Friday was a magic show, and boy was it awesome. This guy, Nate Staniforth (who is younger than me!) wants to be Harry Houdini...he's been doing magic since he was like, 10. So he did a bunch of sleight-of-hand tricks (the first one was swallowing string and needles and then pulling out a string with 5 threaded needles on it) and a straightjacket escape right on stage. The two coolest ones were a dollar bill trick and a card trick that I (and Matt, which I'll explain in a minute) got to participate in.

So the dollar bill trick went like this - he asked a girl in the audience to hold something until the end of the trick but not to look at it. After he put it into her hands, he asked people to hold up dollar bills and picked one randomly. He had the audience memorize the serial number (in portions), had someone sign the bill, and then he tore off a corner and gave it to someone else to hold (in plain view). Then he put the (extremely marked) bill into an envelope and burned it. After that, he asked the first girl to open her hands, and she was holding the signed, torn dollar bill with the serial number we had memorized.

The card trick was cool too (although Matt figured out a possible explanation for it). First, he set a deck of cards on a chair in plain view and stepped away. Then he told everyone in the audience with a cell phone to call someone, anyone as long as it wasn't another person in the room, and for the first 4 people who got someone on the line to stand up. Naturally I called Matt and I was the fourth person. Then he asked the audience to pick someone by applause, and we "won." He told me to ask Matt to pick any card and tell me the number and suit. Matt picked the 6 of hearts. He told me to tell Matt I would call him back later. Then he asked me to tell the audience what card Matt had picked. I said it, he picked up the deck off of the chair right in front of me, opened it, and fanned the cards out. All of them were face up except guessed it, the 6 of hearts.

I didn't make it to bed until after midnight last night (I needed another shower after that sticky day and to blowdry my hair in preparation for today) but I forced myself to get up at 8 again. Today I have breakfast, an alumnae college lecture about the Sweet Briar dam, a picnic lunch at the boathouse, the Nature Center dedication, and the engineering program's cardboard boat race at the lake. I may swing by one of the athletic games for a bit before I leave, and then it's off to SC (Kim was surprised when I told her I was visiting my in-laws sans hubby. Do people not do this?)

Other '03-ers I've spent time with this weekend: Nicole Crowder, Hilary Pool, and Tara Conte. I also got to spend time with Kim Wilson, who is such a cutie - I've known her since she was a prospective student, and as far as I can remember she's wanted to be like me (academically, that is). She's a senior now (sniff) and she ended up picking up my old honors thesis project. And she wants to apply to Hopkins for grad school! Except in Biophysics, but I can forgive that :-) I told her I would be happy to help in any way possible. We Sweet Briar girls are tight like that.

Not related to SBC, but the fact that the FDA director is resigning makes me very happy. He's done a crappy job so far (and he was only confirmed two months ago!!) You know it's bad when both the Dems and Repubs are happy that you're gone. Here's hoping that the next guy gets it right.

Just when I thought that I never would have believed that paying $2.50 for a gallon of gas would make me *happy* the experts are predicting that, due to the second Gulf Coast hurricane, prices could top $4 a gallon. That would bring my gas expenditures to $65+ per week (only me...not including Matt). That makes me want to cry.

Gotta go finish getting ready and packing everything back up now. I was going to try for some yoga this morning before I left, but I seem to have used up all my free time typing this post. Something is also very wrong with my knee today...rawr. I will have *extremely* limited internet access (if any) until probably Thursday night (when I'm tentatively coming back to MD) so don't expect much until then. Matt's dad set their house up on a wireless network!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

And the moral of the story is...

Heard this on the radio on the way home tonight:

A bird is trying to fly south for the winter, but he hasn't made it quite there when it starts to get really cold. The bird drops to the ground, shivering and blue. A cow comes along, sees the bird lying half-dead on the ground, and drops a load of manure on it. At first the bird is really mad - who does this cow think he is? But then he realizes that the manure is warm, and he's thawing out. Once he's all nice and cozy, he starts to sing. A cat walking by hears the singing, digs through the manure, and finds and eats the bird.

What are the lessons?
1. Not everyone who dumps crap on you is your enemy.
2. Not everyone who digs you out of crap is your friend.
3. When you're in deep doo-doo, it's best to keep your mouth shut.


Vacation, all I ever wanted

Name that song!

I am on a super-tight delicate schedule today. All work must be done by 3:30. I have free lunch (accomplished) at the translational research conference, a meeting with Rhoda at 1:30 to plan out my thesis (so I can start working on the proposal while I'm gone) and seminar at 4 (but I have to swing by the ATM on my way over). Then I'm off to church for dinner and bible study, going to the grocery store on my way home to make sure that Matt has food to eat while I'm gone, and packing tonight.

Three days at Sweet Briar for Homecoming Weekend, and then I'm off to South Carolina for another couple of days (tentatively coming back next Thursday right now, but we'll see...nothing's set in stone yet). So I guess it's a lot like July - the first few days are more "vacation-y" and then the rest are more family stuff.

I went to Walmart last night to drop off my contact lens prescription, and I wanted to get a pink cardigan that I had seen online. They didn't have it, but they had another, plain one. I ended up with that, and I also got pink courderoy pants and a pink striped shirt. Yay pink!

This article about the changing state of the American family is pretty interesting.

That's about it for me. And no, I am not going to do that survey that everyone did.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

More Security Woes?

Keyboard clicks can lead to security hacks - I have to admit, whoever thought this up is brilliant. It uses a microphone to record the sound of someone typing, and then two sets of programs - the first identifies the sound of each key and matches it to the appropriate letter, and the second uses several cycles of "smart" programs to correct the accuracy based on use of the English language. All in all, it can identify what you type with about 95% accuracy. Amazing.

Friday, September 16, 2005


Predicabadger took a brief hiatus from working for the Nusbaums in order to moonlight for me and bring you new tales of conundrumness.

You're at the grocery store. There is an approximately 10 year-old kid in front of you buying a 2 liter of Mug root beer. He asks about your cat (you're buying cat food) as he hands the cashier two $1 bills. After brief chit chat, your turn is up at the register, and the kid is nowhere to be seen. The cashier rings up and bags your groceries; you pay and head to your car. You are almost done putting bags in your trunk; as you pick the last bag up out of your cart, you realize that it is a 2 liter of Mug root beer - that you didn't buy. It's after 8pm, you haven't eaten for over 7 hours, and it's starting to rain, which is kryptonite to your straightened hair.

What Do You Do?

Whatever happened to picking out a gift?

It used to be you got to register for gifts if you were getting married or having a baby. Now, in addition to those, we also have:
- Destination Dorm registry: because a graduation check isn't enough!
- Housewarming registry: come see our new place, and buy us more stuff!
- Anniversary registry: hey, we didn't get divorced!
- Holiday Wish List registry: to make sure Santa gets it right!
- Committment registry: we're not getting married, but buy us stuff anyways!
- Celebration registry: for all other occasions not covered above!

I think our country has got a serious case of the gimmies.

I'm not sure what to make of this...

The Straight Girl's Guide to Sleeping With Chicks - from FARK, a biographical sketch of the author of said book and a bit of sociology into attraction and sexual orientation. Long, PG-13, but interesting.

Although this screams in the face of the whole biology argument (at least for women, which the article admits.)


Thursday, September 15, 2005

No Spam For You!

But how about some pie?

I've recently been plagued by comment spammers advertizing their wares on my webpage. I got tired of policing and deleting (or having to leave it up because other people had already commented, thanks guys) so now you'll have to "prove you're a human" when you comment if you don't have a Blogger account. Ugh...the very thing I was trying to avoid when I got a LJ username, and now I've passed it on to you. And by "you", I mean the four people that actually read and comment on my blog, and Matt already said he didn't care.

You could always get a Blogger username if you wanted to avoid it...
Apparently even I am not exempt from the word verification when I comment, and it's my blog!

This story is cool. This guy has way too much free time.

I just don't understand

What kind of world do we live in when people say that schools subjecting their children to HEARING the words "under God" during the Pledge of Allegiance is a violation of their First Amendment rights, but at the same time, your right to mow obscenities into your lawn is protected by the First Amendment. Who are we protecting here??

Please note that, as I tried to explain to Matt several different ways, I am not questioning if the words should be in the pledge (they should, and if you don't want your kid to say them, then just tell them not to, but don't infringe on my right to say them), or if it will be overturned (it will), or if I care what that guy does with his lawn (I don't, but I might feel differently if my kids lived next door to him). I am simply questioning the many varied ways we interpret protection under the First Amendment.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

What happened??

For some reason, our internet connection this week has been just awful. Worse than dial-up. Images don't load immediately, page timeouts occur frequently, downloads are slower than molasses. It took me over 4 minutes to update my virus definition this morning in preparation for my weekly scan at noon today. 4 minutes to do what normally takes less than 30 seconds. What is going on here?? I demand answers!

It's going to be a long day. Actually, it's going to be a long week. I didn't leave work until almost 7 last night...drove over an hour, folded laundry and emptied the dishwasher wil cooking dinner, did half of my bible study while watching the season premier of House, and then fell asleep. Today, I left at 7:45am and won't be home until after 9pm - commuting, work, seminars, and play rehersal are bleeding my week dry.

This has been a slow week in terms of news; at least, news that interests me. A brief rundown:
-John Roberts's confirmation: most likely a done deal, doesn't bother me either way (there could be much much worse people in the position).
-Hurricane Katrina: nobody "called" the play, the ball was dropped, the chief of FEMA was fired (he never should have been in the position in the first place), the blacks cry foul, conspiracy theorists create new theories, the media overplays everything.
-Gay marriage amendment in California: I firmly believe in states rights. The people elected these legislators, so let them do their job and vote as the people want them to (I'm laughing as I type this, because the thought of politicians voting the way their constituency wants them to is as far-fetched as pigs flying). Personally, it doesn't matter to me either way if Adam and Steve get "married."
-President Bush's approval rating drops to new low: why does he care? He's not running for a political office ever again.
-Plan B decision stalled indefinitely: so the FDA lied to congress when the new director promised that, after his confirmation, he would hand down a decision by September 30th. Politicians (and politically-motivated heads of organizations) lie. That's hardly news.
-Gas prices: Price gouging, gas theft, etc...why are we surprised? And although the national average is not there yet, I'd like to point out that many regional areas (NY, Cali, DC/MD) are well above the inflation-adjusted high of $3.11 in the '80s.

That's my timer. Gotta run run run.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Stuff? No.

I think one person will get that title :-)'s been a while. I haven't been particularly busy (other than reading The Message a lot when I get home). I just haven't had much to say. I mean, there's been stuff I wanted to say, but knew that I didn't need to.

I'm excited about the SBC tea and lecture tomorrow. Then I have three play rehersals next week, and the play on Sunday. A couple more days of work, then homecoming weekend at Sweet Briar and a few more days down in SC. And then it'll be October. Good grief. I did get an e-mail today saying that they were adding a pilates session on Friday afternoons (the only day I have open now) so that excited me. Forgive me, Kate, for I have been lazy. It's been 6 weeks since I last worked my abs. Bring on the pain.

I read an article in Harper's Magazine a few minutes ago...the summary on Boing Boing was better than the article itself (hence the lack of a link), but it basically said that the natural human response to disaster (natural or otherwise) is not anarchy and outrage, but rather outreach and consolidation of the people for the common goal of relief. However, the government entities allow the media to play up the negative reactions and failures of the response, so that the government can point to the need for greater power and authority over the people. It happened after 9/11 (in that great failure I like to call the Patriot Act)...who knows what loss of civil liberties will come out of this disaster.

Max was abducted by aliens yesterday. They shaved a crop circle into his ear. Seriously...he has a perfectly round bald spot on the back of his right ear, and we have no clue how it got there. If his eyes start glowing, I'm out of here.

Man, my head hurts. I think I'm done for tonight.

Monday, September 05, 2005


PocketMod: The free disposable organizer - This is a pretty cool idea. You get to click and drag 8 "modules" (lists, calendars, tic tac toe boards, etc) to a template and then print it out. A few snips and folds later, you have an 8 page organizer. Nifty!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

More song stuff

I just found this text file a little while ago. Clearly at some point I had too much time on my hands. But here's my top ten picks for two of my favorite groups, plus some honorable mentions.

Top 10 Counting Crows Songs
1. Anna Begins
2. Sullivan Street
3. Mrs. Potter's Lullaby
4. Recovering the Satellites
5. Goodnight Elisabeth
6. Ghost In You
7. Miami
8. High Life
9. Raining In Baltimore
10. Mr. Jones

Honorable Mention: Hard Candy, American Girls, Mercury, Walkaways

Top 10 Barenaked Ladies Songs
1. The Old Apartment
2. War on Drugs
3. Break Your Heart
4. Call and Answer
5. Great Provider
6. Brian Wilson
7. Upside Down
8. Leave
9. Helicopters
10. The Wrong Man Was Convicted

Honorable Mention: I'll Be That Girl, Tonight is The Night I Fell Alseep At The Wheel, You Will Be Waiting

Friday, September 02, 2005

I love Bebo

I came walking down this road
For a better point of view
Threw down my heavy load
And what I found was you
And all of time stood still

Caught up in time and space
I was a soul to dread
All weary from the race
And the voices in my head
You stepped inside and changed my will

Oh me, oh my
I am standing in your silence
Gonna stand here for a long, long time

Well, it's cold behind the earth
For a drifting satellite
But you know for what it's worth
I've been praying for daylight
So slow my eyes to see

Oh, but it's finally breaking day
And the morning time has come
And if I am fields of green
Well honey, you're the sun
So slowly rise on me

Oh me, oh my
I am standing in your sunlight
Gonna stand here for a long, long time

Take it easy, we can take it slow
Honey, I don't mind
You know the seasons they may come and go
But you're always mine
You're always mine

Oh me, oh my
I am standing in your silence
Gonna stand here for a long, long time

- Bebo Norman, Standing In Your Silence