Sunday, December 30, 2007

Decisions, decisions

Every year I have to decide how to spend my Christmas money. It's always a struggle! This year, I got some shirts from Old Navy, and the heart "I got the beat!" t-shirt from IHeartGuts.com - I know, I'm a nerd :-) Then, I was thinking about going for a massage with the rest. But I ended up ordering an espresso machine and a case of syrup flavorings (case = 6, and you can mix them up so I got my "favorites" - Amaretto, Caramel, Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate, Gingerbread, and Vanilla). So hopefully the machine will work well and based on how often I go to S'bucks (at least 2x a week) I figure it should start paying for itself in about 3-4 months. After that it's pure profit, baby!

I also had to decide if I wanted to wait until next month to order, because I'll be getting a $5 amazon.com gift certificate from one of my survey sites. But Matt told me it wasn't worth it to wait so I just went ahead and ordered.

One last thing - I refuse to give any credence to an online review for an "expresso machine."

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I did our budget updating and bill-paying tonight; there were some good parts and bad parts. The bad part is that we ate out waaaaay too much and are pretty much not going out to dinner until like Valentine's Day. The good part is that, as of January 2nd, we completely own Matt's car! And we are on track to pay mine off by May. I also did our tax estimation, and we have finally gotten our federal refund to under $300 (which is perfect). But I think our state refund is still too large (IMNSHO) so we'll have to play with the withholdings again this year. And then we'll probably have to do it again next year because hopefully by the end of '08 I'll have a real job.

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I usually don't make new year's resolutions but I do like to have goals. This year, I'd like to pay off my car, open a Roth IRA, keep better tabs on our discretionary spending, and go "pro" with our Nerdy Babies site. And finish grad school, obviously, but I think that was implied by the previous paragraph. As I said recently on my Facebook page, "I'm either walking at graduation in 2009 or just plain walking."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Proof that people really do change

Looking over some old posts from my Diaryland account recently; I took a Myers-Briggs test in 2002 and was an ENTP (Extroverted-iNtuitive- Thinking-Perceiving). The one I took this year said I was an ESTJ (Extroverted-Sensing-Thinking-Judging). I'll let my loyal readers decide which one is which (and which is more me):
1. E---s thrive on order and continuity. Being extroverted, their focus involves organization of people, which translates into supervision. While E---s enjoy organizing and mobilizing people according to their own theories and tactically based agendas, E---s are content to enforce "the rules," often dictated by tradition or handed down from a higher authority.

E---s are joiners. They seek out like-minded companions in clubs, civic groups, churches and other service organizations. The need for belonging is woven into the fiber of E---s. The family likewise is a central focus for E---s, and attendance at such events as weddings, funerals and family reunions is obligatory.

Tradition is important to the E---. Holidays, birthdays and other annual celebrations are remembered and observed often religiously by this type. The E--- is inclined to seek out his roots, to trace the family heritage back to honored ancestors both for a sense of family respectability and for a sense of security and belonging.

Service, the tangible expression of responsibility, is another key focus for E---s. They love to provide and to receive good service. The E--- merchant who provides dependable service has done much to enhance her self image.

E---s have an acute sense for orthodoxy. Much of their evaluation of persons and activities reflects their strong sense of what is "normal" and what isn't. E--- humor is frequently centered around something or someone being off center or behaving abnormally.

E---s promote the work ethic. Power, position and prestige should be worked for and earned. Laziness is rarely viewed with ambivalence nor benevolence by this type.


2. "Clever" is the word that perhaps describes E---s best. The professor who juggles half a dozen ideas for research papers and grant proposals in his mind while giving a highly entertaining lecture on an abstruse subject is a classic example of the type. So is the stand-up comedian whose lampoons are not only funny, but incisively accurate.

E---s are usually verbally as well as cerebrally quick, and generally love to argue -both for its own sake, and to show off their often-impressive skills. They tend to have a perverse sense of humor as well, and enjoy playing devil's advocate. They sometimes confuse, even inadvertently hurt, those who don't understand or accept the concept of argument as a sport.

E---s are as innovative and ingenious at problem-solving as they are at verbal gymnastics; on occasion, however, they manage to outsmart themselves. This can take the form of getting found out at "sharp practice;" E---s have been known to cut corners without regard to the rules if it's expedient -- or simply in the collapse of an over-ambitious juggling act. Both at work and at home, E---s are very fond of "toys" -physical or intellectual, the more sophisticated the better. They tend to tire of these quickly, however, and move on to new ones.

E---s are basically optimists, but in spite of this (perhaps because of it?), they tend to become extremely petulant about small setbacks and inconveniences. (Major setbacks they tend to regard as challenges, and tackle with determination.) E---s have little patience with those they consider wrongheaded or unintelligent, and show little restraint in demonstrating this. However, they do tend to be extremely genial, if not charming, when not being harassed by life in general.

In terms of their relationships with others, E---s are capable of bonding very closely and, initially, suddenly, with their loved ones. Some appear to be deceptively offhand with their nearest and dearest; others are so demonstrative that they succeed in shocking co-workers who've only seen their professional side. E---s are also good at acquiring friends who are as clever and entertaining as they are. Aside from those two areas, E---s tend to be oblivious of the rest of humanity, except as an audience - good, bad, or potential.

(No cheating on Google!)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas is coming...why, it's practically here!

Max playing with his new "toy" - part of the string from one of our garlands.


The stockings were hung by the...um, table, with care.

PS - I posted new pictures on the photoblog!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Success!

We have our first sale on Nerdy Babies! Someone bought the kids' baseball jersey that says "Daddy's Little Carbon-Based Life Form," hehehe :-) That one was my idea.

Tell your friends!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Practically done

Cards mailed. Packages shipped. Shopping done (still waiting for two things to be delivered). Cookies baked. Tree up. House (mostly) cleaned and decorated. Gifts made.

I did not attend a single Christmas party this year.

And of course, with perfect timing, I've got another neck spasm. Sigh. This one is weird though; normally it's on one side and it affects me turning my head. This time, it's in the back center - I can turn my head just fine, but I can't tilt it back very far, and if I'm lying on my stomach (which I often do at night) it hurts to lift my head to turn from one side to the other. I woke up a lot last night :-/

An-y-way. Not much else going on; work's been a bit slow because the holidays are coming up and it's hard to start and stop things abruptly.

I've been reading a lot of financial articles lately; I have some future plans in my head; all we need now is the money! Stupid grad school.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The evidence

Matt says he "doesn't know how to smile for pictures" but I now have proof that he really does!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ummmm

I have a file in My Documents entitled tshirt.txt - the entire text of said file is "15th, shortly, 6th, shortly, 17th, shortly,"

I have no idea what that means and no recollection of writing/saving said file contents. But apparently I did on September 17th?

UPDATE: I remembered. It was when I was waiting for a t-shirt to be shipped and they kept changing the "backordered, expected in stock" date. Seeing as how I do have the shirt now, I will mark that file as baleeted.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Simply having a wonderful saturday

Apologies to Paul McCartney. Anyway, I had my orientation session at Recording For the Blind and Dyslexic this morning. It looks like a pretty neat opportunity - I'd be recording science textbooks for people with disabilities to use in their classes. I got a tour and such and then spent a while listening in on a guy that was recording, and following along in the textbook so I could see how the books are marked up and such. As luck would have it, he was recording a chapter on the male and female reproductive systems. And old enough to be my grandfather. Slightly awkward. But anyway, I start on January 5th...I'll do Saturday sessions until I (hopefully) get a job in DC and then switch to an evening session that I can do on my way home from work (their studio is right across the street from a red line metro stop).

I just read that Hopkins is offering a second section of the class I wanted to take online! That makes me really happy. It's on Product Development, and would be the last elective for me to count towards a certificate. Then I'd just have to take two required core classes, which have been really hard for me to get into - I haven't had any luck so far with those, because everyone and their uncle has to take them and I don't have registration priority. But I've been debating whether or not to try to register for one anyways (either a marketing or finance class); the pro is that it's not online so it might be slightly less popular, and the con is that it's not online so I'd actually have to show up for a class at the Montgomery County campus once a week. I'm still undecided. The rational part of me says "You won't have much more opportunity to take classes for free, so you should take advantage of everything you can now." The other part of me says "I'm tired of taking classes, think of all the other things I could be doing with that time." We'll see who wins. The other thing I'm worried about is that I'll register for one and it will fill up but the other one won't. And I think attempting to register for three classes at once might raise some red flags.

We're going to Dave and Buster's for Matt Green's birthday tonight. We've never been before, but it should be interesting. It's like a grown-up Chuck E Cheese's; as long as they have skeeball I'm happy.

One question likely answered

Extra benefit #1 for irresponsible borrowers: "The president also used the announcement as an opportunity to call on Congress to act more expeditiously on passing mortgage relief legislation, including the FHA Modernization bill, changes in the tax code, so lender concessions to borrowers are not taxed as income, and a bill enabling local and state governments to issue bonds to finance mortgage refinancings. All have been bottled up in the Senate for weeks or months." (link)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Been busy...really!

It's crazy that I haven't posted in like two weeks, because I've been on my computer ALL the time recently. I even bought a mouse because the touchpad was getting too annoying for all the work I was doing. So, what have I been doing?

1. Lab Website. Rhoda heard about some lab that got a huge donation because the donor was looking for research on their disease, and came across the lab's website. So she decided we needed a lab website as well, and we needed it yesterday. I don't remember why I volunteered, but the point is that I did. And it's about 85% done now. You can see it here. You'll notice if you click that it's a ColdFusion format. No, I don't know ColdFusion; I coded the pages in HTML (in *notepad* for crying out loud) and the content manager does whatever it does to convert them. Matt had to help me with some workarounds because the people who wrote the code for the side menubar made their CSS apply to the entire page and it was overwriting styles that I had written.

2. New business adventure? Matt and I are coming up with plans for a website through Cafepress - Nerdy Babies. I've been doing a lot of graphic design in Photoshop for t-shirts and such; we have a basic site right now but we're planning to get a paid site once we have 15 or so designs. So tell your friends!

3. Surveys. I've been juggling memberships at several paid survey sites, which takes a little bit of time out of each day. If you'd like to join the crowd let me know - there are some more decent than others.

4. Class. My online class wraps up this week ("week" = Wednesday to Tuesday) so I've been doing assignments and such for that; I'll be taking my final on Monday most likely.

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I'm torn about the announcement of the 5-year ARM freeze. On the one hand, I suppose something needs to be done so that the whole housing market doesn't collapse. On the other hand, how can you not feel like a chump if you have a fixed rate loan? I mean, we were fiscally responsible, bought within our budget, didn't speculate or over extend ourselves. Where's our rate cut? You people gambled on rates not going up (ha!), housing values continuing to soar, or the expectation of future income. You lost, and now they get to change the rules? We apparently gambled on the party of "limited government" and "personal responsibility" not stepping in and rewarding irresponsibility by asking lenders to "voluntarily" disregard contract law. What's next? Returning gambling losses, replacing 401K funds after the stock market drops, a refund of college tuition if you don't get a great job after graduation, gas credits for SUV drivers who are the "victims" of higher gas prices, cutting credit card interest rates so there's room on the Visa for another vacation or new TV?

Yeah, I'm a little bitter. I went back and looked at the ARM rates for the time that we bought; we could have gotten 20% more house for the same monthly payment and just sat on our laurels and waited for the rulebook to be rewritten. So much for the American Dream (TM).

From a CNN message board - ignorant self-entitled fool or the greatest troll ever?
"The people who barrow are the real victims here. The lenders told them their homes where worth more that thay really where. Then they where willing to lend them too much money for the over priced house. Then the lenders let the victims pay these loans with negative amortization. Then they didn’t explain the loan agreement to the victims. They never where told that the rate and payments would go up.

These barrowers are the victim here. I support a bill to allow the people who get foreclosed to sue the lender for fraud and therefore let them keep their homes for free, free, free!!!! This is the type of help these victims need. Lets all band together and support this type of action for these victims."

I'd like to know a couple things though - what are the consequences? Will the difference in the payment amounts be added onto the principle balance? Will it be treated as a debt forgiveness, which would not only be listed on a person's credit report but also counted as income for tax purposes? I've not been able to find anything definite on any of these questions.

Also, I've heard two suggestions that I think would have been a better idea, but since smart people thought of them I doubt they'll ever be implemented. One is that instead of a rate adjustment (or really lack thereof) the rate should have adjusted as the contract stipulates but that the loan term is lengthened to whatever length is needed to keep the payment amount the same. The homeowner keeps their house, but pays for their decision through more interest - which the lender gets as a profit. The second idea is that, since the rate freeze has already been implemented, that anyone who takes the freeze offer loses their exemption of capital gains taxes when they sell the property, as they've already received their financial benefit. One thing that I do support, however, is a waiver of prepayment penalties for anyone refinancing their primary residence, as there is no reason other than greedy lenders for having those in place.

This is the fear, this is the dread
These are the contents of my head
And these are the years that we have spent
And this is what they represent
And this is how I feel...
-Annie Lenox, Why

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Holiday Cookies 2007

It's time for the announcement!

*Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies
*Big 'n Soft Ginger Cookies
*Cranberry Eggnog Twirls
*Pumpkin Spice Stars
*Peppermint Cookies
*M&M Cookies

And I'll be making chocolate-covered pretzels for gifts.

Yum!

And so it ends

Final College Pick'em numbers: 501 points, 97.9th percentile, for 3533th place (bah, went down! even though this week was my third best) overall. Won in the group for the second year in a row; 28 points over Sarah in second place. Not a bad run overall...better than my 5285th place showing last year :-)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lucky Lucky Lucky

So, we decided to avoid I-95 like the plague and took 83 up to 78 across PA and then 87 north to Albany to get into Massachusetts from the west side. It worked out really well for us both coming and going - just a couple slow-downs of less than 10 minutes each on the way up and absolutely no problems on the way home. But we were incredibly lucky on Wednesday timing-wise. You might have heard about the fatal accident on I-78 Wednesday morning. A car traveling westbound crossed the median and hit a flatbed trailer carrying cement bags; the trailer rolled and blocked the eastbound lanes for over 6 hours (and slowed the westbound lanes with looky-loos for about the same length of time). This apparently happened less than 10 minutes before we went through - so we were at the front end of the traffic jam instead of farther back. Also, we were in the stretch of cars that was able to get off at the exit ramp immediately before the road blockage and just drive across the overpass to the highway on the other side. They later closed the road completely and detoured people off onto side roads. So, very lucky that we came through early enough to not be slowed much but also to not have been involved in the incident itself.

Thanksgiving was great, Massachusetts was great, and Hokie Football was awesome. We set up the DVR to record the game and watched it when we got home; fast-forwarding through commercials, timeouts and halftime got us to the end of the game in less than two hours. And what a sweet, sweet ending.

But I felt so sad for Kansas :-(

Do you have a flag?

Matt: Sacked! Not as good as sex.
Me: I think that would be a flag.
Matt: You're probably right.
Me: Unsportsmanlike conduct...don't you just hate it when you tackle a guy and he sticks it in your pooper?

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Tomorrow's the last week of College Pick'em. I already have a 35 point lead over second place, so I'm not really worried about winning in my group. But I'm at 3339th place, and it sure would be nice to break into the top 3000.

Oh, and I have a bet with Jason on the VT-UVA game...loser has to wear the opposing team's t-shirt :-) We watched a good bit of the LSU-Arkansas game earlier today after we got back from the Norman Rockwell Museum, and are watching the Hawaii-Boise State game right now. Good stuff so far!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How much are they getting under the table?

I am really, REALLY frigging sick of the asshole ACC refs that keep making BS calls (or more often, failing to make correct calls) on VT. Week after week after week they have "missed" pass interference calls, facemask calls, holding calls, late hit calls, head to head contact calls, and on and on and on. I can't believe nobody's been fired yet.

PS - dammit Clemson, you HAD that. How could you give it away to BC??

Sunday, November 11, 2007

14 days

That might be a record. And not the good kind I suppose?

Actually, my last post was #777 - I just wanted to savor the luckiest of lucky numbers for as long as I could. Okay, not really.

Alrighty then. NYC was a great trip/conference. I got my poster done on Thursday morning. We took the train up to NYC Thursday afternoon. Nick and Jason decided to be original and take a bike taxi (the kind with the little carts behind the bike) to our hotel; the rest of us took taxis. We went to what would be dubbed "cart man" for dinner - Landon and I got cheese steaks, and everyone else got gyros. There was a keynote speaker and the first poster session (that nobody from our lab was in) and some food (but definitely not dinner, so it was a good thing that we had eaten beforehand).

The conference continued on Friday, and I presented my poster that afternoon. I was actually amazed that I ended up talking to almost 20 people about my poster, and nearly all of them said that they thought my research was very interesting. It was a pretty nice pat on the back, so to speak. After the rest of the sessions, the whole group of us went out to eat at Agozar, a cuban restaurant. We were having trouble getting cabs, so Rhoda (in her Rhodariffic way) hailed a charter bus. Oh yes. Anyway, we all got to the restaurant and had awesome tapas, drinks, and food.

More conference Saturday, and then the students weren't invited to the SMR banquet. So Amena and I were placed in charge of coming up with dinner plans. We ended up getting reservations at Kin Khao, a Thai place. Not to be outdone by last night, Amena hailed us a limo for $5 a person. Rhoda had given us a $360 budget and said we could spend it however we wanted; since we had only spent around $275 on dinner, we went to a liquor store and got a couple bottles of wine and had a great time sitting in one of the rooms watching TV and talking.

We came back on Sunday. We were originally supposed to be on the 1:05 train, but we got to the train station at like 11:45 and Rhoda (again in Rhodariffic fashion) decided that we all needed to change our tickets to the 12:05 train so we could get back an hour earlier. We went back and forth between the line, ticket counter and the people standing with our luggage, and at one point someone said "well, we'll get our tickets just in time to miss the train, and then at least we'll have an hour to change them back." But we amazingly made the train with about 4 minutes or so to spare.

I got home around 4:30, and I had a couple hours to do some laundry and swap out my suitcase and such. I went out to Robert and Jodie's place in Manassas for the night, and drove down to Charlottesville on Monday. Dad at the hospital at 8:30am, and he was still in the waiting area when I got there a little before noon. They called him back about a half hour later; mom went up with him while Daniel and I sat around, and eventually got some lunch. Mom finally came down around 4 and told us to go up and sit with him, because she was starving. Dad finally went into surgery around 4:30 and was in for about 5 hours. In the meantime, we got dinner at a pizza place called The Mellow Mushroom, which was pretty good.

I think the PACU nurse felt bad for us, because she let us come up to the post-op recovery room for about 20 minutes or so. Dad finally went to his room at 11:15, and we left the hospital around an hour later. Long day. But the surgery went well, all things considered. The surgeons told us that based on the gross examination, there was still cancer in his larynx (and they took out half of his thyroid as a precaution). They originally told him he'd be in the hospital until the 12th, but he went home Saturday evening.

We spent pretty much most of the day Tuesday at the hospital, and I came home on Wednesday. The rest of the week has been pretty low key. Matt and I went to Let's Dish yesterday and then to Target to get stuff for our Operation Christmas Child boxes. Also, I had two reasonable college pick'em weeks (36 last week and 42 yesterday) so I'm pretty well cemented in my lead by 32 points. Oh, and the VT game was craaaaazy! Good times. We also watched the Maryland BC game as well.

Well, that should be everything. I hope things should start to calm down for a while before the holidays - we're leaving for Massachusetts in (ack!) 10 days. And then it's Jim Gaffigan at the Warner Theater, Christmas parties, shopping, baking, and the holiday flurry.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The times they are a-changing

My third-youngest cousin is wearing makeup. I feel so old.

Tragically hip

We went to DC Friday night. It's not something that we do a lot, but Matt Skinner and his girlfriend Shelly were in town for the weekend...announcing their engagement!! So we met them and Matt Green (Matt Cubed reunited again!) at Fogo de Chao over in Federal Triangle for dinner. It. Was. FANTASTIC. Oh my goodness. It's a Brazilian barbeque, which equals all-you-can-eat meat. And I mean, fantastic meat - bacon-wrapped filet mignon, seasoned ribeye and top sirloin, roast leg of lamb, lamb chops, sausages, chicken, beef and pork ribs, etc etc. They have 14 kinds of meat in all. And they have these guys ("Gauchos") that just run around with all these meats on big sticks, and whenever you flip your "card" from red to green, there's a guy there to serve you. And they keep coming until you flip your card back to red. And so it goes. They also had a huge salad bar, amazing cheese rolls, fried bananas, mashed potatoes and fried polenta. Our table was right next to the kitchen...in a regular restaurant, this is usually less than desirable but here it meant we got first pick at every meat coming hot off the grill. It was incredible. And incredibly expensive. But worth it.

After dinner we went to Dupont Circle and got into the tres exclusive 18th Street Lounge. And I'm not kidding, go google it, and you'll come up with descriptions like "beautiful people," "velvet rope," and "so chic it doesn't advertise." The last is definitely true, the second is technically not, and the first could be debatable. Anyway. Skinner's now-fiancee Shelly went on some kind of peace corp-like thing with a guy named Dennis (from Kenya, who was visiting DC for a couple weeks). Dennis is good friends with Lars, who coordinates a lot of the programs. Lars is a big-wig at the club. Oh, the connections you'll make! So Lars talked us past the bouncer (despite Matt's tennis shoes, what was he thinking??) And we spent an hour or so listening to club music at a reserved table and feeling the coolness exude from the walls and wash over us unworthies, hehe.

Saturday, I had a decent College Pick'em weekend - 5 out of 10 for 36 points, so not my worst week. Cal disappointed me again, as did Florida (Bah!!) but four of my five incorrect picks were at the bottom so overall the damage wasn't too bad. I'm still securely in my lead at 340 points, but only 3 points separate 2nd and 4th place, so next week should get interesting. I hope I have internet access at the conference to do some editing, because last year not being able to edit picks did not serve me well. Although with the way things have been going lately, it might not matter!

I didn't go to church this morning. I've been so exhausted lately, and I had a horrible headache when the alarm clock went off this morning...the kind I immediately recognize as being more curable by a couple extra hours of sleep than by a whole bottle of aspirin. So I slept until noon and I feel better now.

I forgot my AC adapter this weekend and I've run under 50% of my battery (although it's only that high because I used Matt's laptop to keep track of scores last night) so I'll go ahead and end this now. I'm going to be in NYC in four days...that snuck up on me something crazy. Oh, and my cashmere sweaters are coming tomorrow!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Chokies

Too bad VT only played for 57 minutes last night instead of 60.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Funny Photos

1. Roxie is all in!


2. Look closely at this one. This is how you do yard work without a truck.

Finally!

Today's high is only 56...currently 51. I'm breaking out a new sweater (in red) and my new wool coat!! Yay!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Having a good week!

And we're already over half-way through it :-) I got my car back this morning...I missed it! It looks perfectly fine now. A little over five weeks from impact to resolution. Whew.

I also got actual, real, good data on Tuesday! Like, data that can go on my poster next week. Awesome. I was worried about it for like three days straight, and when I got it, I was so shocked I didn't even know what to say at first. Rhoda asked me "What's wrong?" and I said "Nothing...absolutely nothing." Whee!

So, I'm hoping my good week continues tomorrow with the BC-VT game. TT is still questionable, but maybe, maybe SG can pull through. I've made a new friend in the department also (a VT grad who is currently a second year) though the football connection.

Matt was the guest on The BuddyDank Radio Show tonight (poker blogger thing). The first question they asked him was "Blondes or Brunettes?" He says "Well, I better say blondes because my wife is listening." Damn straight!

I wasn't supposed to, but I caved and bought two sweaters from ON. They're cashmere! I've never owned a cashmere sweater before! It was actually meant to be a pick-me-up in anticipation of another research failure, but since I actually got data I guess it was a celebratory purchase then :-) I got a pink scoop neck sweater and a red cardigan.

Max is lucky that he's cute and I love him, because he peed all over the second bedroom. I had to buy two gallons of cleaner and a battery-operated sprayer (awesome purchase) and cover 2/3 of the room. I still have half a gallon to respray areas if necessary. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Telco Morons

The dumbest thing I've heard the telcos say in regards to turning over customer data to the government, quoted from The Washington Post: "The company said it does not determine the requests' legality or necessity because to do so would slow efforts to save lives in criminal investigations....Verizon and AT&T said it was not their role to second-guess the legitimacy of emergency government requests."

Yep, you got that right. It's NOT your role to determine the legality of requests. THAT'S WHY WE HAVE A COURT SYSTEM THAT ISSUES WARRANTS FOR INFORMATION, MORONS.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Almost $20 richer, woot

I was finally able to close out an online survey for $9.10 - it was kind of annoying, because there was something that you had to answer every day for 14 days. So I'd get the little pop-up box saying I had a survey waiting, and I'd answer the questions for the day. But then it wouldn't register that the survey was "done" even though I had already answered for the day, so I'd get the notification like once an hour whenever I was on my computer. For 14 days. Finally I'm finished. Now I just need 190 more points, and I can cash out for a $20 check. Which I can then immediately apply to my Old Navy credit card bill, bah.

I am going completely stir-crazy...senioritis...grad school fever. Whatever you want to call it. I just want to be in the real world! Making a real salary (~2.5x what I'm getting right now). Funding a retirement account and putting money into an IRA and taking the metro instead of driving 2100 miles a month. I already have everything worked out in my head, right down to how much I'd need to put into the TSP plan to get the full match and the Vanguard fund I want to start putting money into next year. Sigh. This is going to be a long year. At least I hope it's a year, and not longer. Who knows. Sigh.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Kevin Riley, you are dead to me

It was very, very simple. All you had to do was either pass the ball into the end zone, or get it out of bounds. You had practically guaranteed OT with your field goal kicker. Trying to scamper the ball yourself as the clock ran out was NOT an option. IDIOT. I hope the coach makes you cry like a baby in the locker room.

Two weeks in a row that I haven't gotten my #10 pick. Ugh. Damn you, Matt McHugh and your coin flips! I may or may not win week seven, but regardless of the outcome of the Colorado-Kansas State game, I'll at least keep my overall lead. It's just a question of whether it's a 6-point lead or a 20-point lead. Though it was a comforting thing to hear that Kansas State is 10-0 when leading at the half.

This has just been the craziest football season ever. I don't think I had anything lower than mid-30s last year, and that was only two weeks - one of which I had to make picks first thing Monday and couldn't modify them later in the week because European internet access is too freaking expensive. This season, I've had two (and possibly three) 29-point weeks.

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Dinner was fantastic! Crabcakes, caesar salad, steaks, home-fried potatoes, mushrooms, and creme brulee. Yum-my.

Happy birthday to m...att

Hehe - some guy around here is 27...time to put in for a walker. I gave him his gifts this morning - additions to his poker library collection. I'm such a good sleuth. About a year ago, after he got the Harrington On Hold'em books, he wrote a post on his poker blog asking his readers for suggestions. A bunch of people posted books that they liked, but I don't think he ever got any of them. So I went back and found the post, and picked out three: Kill Phil, Caro's Fundamental Secrets of Winning Poker, and The Professor, The Banker, and The Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time. As expected, he was very pleased. I think it's amusing that I've bought him more books on poker than he's bought himself.

Anyway, college football until about 6ish, and then we're heading to Bethesda for another expensively delicious steak dinner at Ruth's Chris. They sent me a $25 gift certificate via e-mail, and I'm never one to pass up a gift certificate. Yum!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Off

I drove Matt home from his endoscopy today. They're going to put him on Prevacid and repeat the procedure in a year to see if it's getting better or worse. I can't help but feel like I'm contributing in some way to it though, because I get home so late every day and we usually don't eat until after 8pm.

Before they let me take him home, I had to sign a paper saying I wouldn't let him drive or sign any legal documents for the next 24 hours. Darn, there goes my plan to get all of our money and property in my name! I keeed.

A bit early for Dios de la Muerte, but how does it feel to die? Creepy if you ask me.

Is it moral to kill 19 suspected terrorists, if doing so also kills 15 civilians (including 9 children)? Immanuel Kant would say no, John Mill would say yes.

Oh, and my copy of the latest PostSecret book came today...I love it!

Now that the weather seems to have righted itself, I switched out the halves of my closet. I culled 4 shirts from the short-sleeve side and put another 3 into the lounging/PJ section. I also decided to separate my 3/4 sleeve shirts from the long sleeve shirts, because the LS section was getting pretty crowded (i.e. things were coming out of the closet wrinkled because there's not enough space for them to hang properly). I know, I have too many clothes. I miss my walk-in closet :-(

Dinner at Ruth's Chris tomorrow! Mmmm steak...I can't wait!

Another thing I can't wait for...lasik. My contacts are so freaking expensive, as was evident yesterday when I ordered them. Almost $300 even after the discounts. Bleh.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Movin' on up

I forgot to mention the other day, that our heat pump is paid off! We sent the final payment in last week...a month before the "first" payment was ever due. I love it.

I'm hoping to get my car back before the end of the month...

"WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY! GOOD NIGHT!" - Futurama

Monday, October 08, 2007

It's my fault

I'm sorry, I broke the weather. It's because over the past two months, I've spent over $200 on a wool coat and six sweaters. Like everything else, the universe has come back to bite me in the butt.

You might be a grad student if...#37: people (non-grad students) ask you "Are you going to be done soon?" and you laugh but inside a little part of you dies. (courtesy of the Facebook group "Grad Students: They're not bad people, they just made terrible life choices.")

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Wrapping up another Saturday

MIAMIIIIII!

That's really my only complaint about this week. Yeah, I didn't get points for Georgia or Wisconsin, but they were playing decent teams. But there is absolutely no excuse for Miami to lose to the second worst team in the ACC. AND it cost me 10 points. Lame.

But all three of my picks that went against the ESPN majority paid off!

I think Missouri's got their game in the bag, so I'm going to go ahead and call 36 points for this week. Not my best, but certainly better than the last two weeks. VT's defense/special teams totally ran all over Clemson...there were 29 points on the board (24 of them Hokie points) before the first offensive touchdown was scored late in the second quarter. And how about that LSU game? I initially didn't want to switch to it when the Ohio State game got boring, when LSU was down by 10 points, because I thought it would only make me mad. But ooh boy. LSU was 5-5 on 4th down conversions in crazy risky spots. But when that last Florida hail mary pass was batted down in the endzone, I jumped so high my knuckles hit the ceiling. Not that that's very hard to do in our place, but still.

Matt McHugh is going to move into second place, but my lead has stretched to 14 points, yay! I don't know where my overall ranking will end up for this week, but I'm in the mid-6000s at the moment.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

New "specialty blog"

I created another topic blog - CopyWrong. I wanted to start collecting reports of copyright abuse, because some of them are just so outrageously funny. As it was with this blog, I ran into the "blog abandonment" issue with the URL I wanted - I ended up having to get copy-wrong.blogspot.com because copywrong.blogspot.com was taken by someone who posted for three months in the beginning of 2003 and then quit. Grr! Anyway, the link's over in the menu bar on the right, and I've already made two posts.

I also made a post on the photoblog today too!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Football picks!

Did my research, got my picks in. They were HARD this week - a lot of seemingly evenly matched teams - only 2 teams out of 20 had lost more than one game, only 5 teams out of 20 unranked. But with how crazy this season has been going, who knows? I went against the crowd on three of my picks: VT, Kansas, and Cincinnati. I just can't pick against VT in a game that I'm able to watch...it makes it no fun. I'm willing to potentially sacrifice one point to be able to whole-heartedly root for them.

I know Eric says that research is bunk and says that "my theory is that anyone who's predicting games correctly must not know anything about college football." But remind me again who's currently winning? :-) I'm currently checking 6 sites weekly - AccuScore, Fearless Predictions, CollegeFootballPoll.com, MSN, College Football News staff picks (7) and Fox Sports Head-To-Head matchups. I do try to take rankings and home field advantage into account as well. I need a good week - I've had two weeks of only 29 points (that's less than 2 points over 50%).

Okay, I'm beat for the night. I worked back-to-back 10-hour days, ugh. Grad school has been like running marathons on a treadmill. You expend tons of effort, but when you're done you're still in the same place that you started. Someone needs to start pushing my treadmill forward for me!

More IP humor :-)



I did finally hear confirmation that my car will be repaired. After calling the body shop three times and Nationwide once. One less thing to worry about.

I am sooooooo glad it's Friday. And yet, I'm still at work, bleh.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Uhhhhh...

After finding out that *yet another* person I know is pregnant:
Me: Geez, what the hell is in the water?
Matt: Babies?
Me: I think I'd see that in the tap...
Matt: That's how they get in your tummy, right? Good thing we have a Brita filter.

DINKS UNITE!!

Something else I learned the hard way - don't reach into the dryer while the barrel is still moving. I tried to grab a shirt out and one of the "paddles" on the inside caught under my arm and smashed it up into the top edge of the dryer. Now I have an awesome, *extremely* sore bruise on my arm.

I got all my stuff from Old Navy yesterday and today. The coat is gorgeous. I can't wait for cooler weather now. I ended up buying one of those external clothes racks to get my skirts hung up (instead of stuffed under a pile of pants). I think I need a shopping hiatus until I make more room in my closet. I did the twist-tie thing, like where you turn your hangers one way, and then as you wear and wash stuff you put it back on hangers facing the other way. But I need all my hangers facing the same way (AR, I know), so I put twist ties on all the hangers and then took them off as I took clothes off the hangers. The summer season is almost over, and there's at least half a dozen shirts that I didn't wear in the last 6 months. I love switching out my closet for the seasons. Although I wish I still had my walk-in closet so I didn't have to move stuff around twice a year!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Monday, Monday

So good to me? Well, I'm not sure.

I think I might have sprained a finger this morning. We have an ice machine for the floor (for research purposes, not for human consumption). I was getting a bucket of ice and when I reached over to close the door it fell onto my finger and caught the first knuckle of my middle finger. Ouch. As Nick only half jokingly said when I told him what happened,"At least you were within easy access of ice." No kidding, I stuck my hand in my bucket immediately but it still hurts on the joint.

I called the Ford service center about my car this morning; they said they hadn't started the repairs yet because the insurance company wanted more pictures (?) so they sent those over on Friday and they're still waiting for the go-ahead to get started. And they told me that the repairs would take about three weeks to complete. I think it's hilarious that Nationwide initially authorized my rental car for 10 days "based on the amount of time it is estimated to repair your car." Yeah, that was before they saw $5K in damages. Sigh.

I am all caught up on my class reading finally. It's pretty interesting. And I got a chance to talk to one of my classmates today; she is already a patent examiner and is getting ready for law school. She said that HR at the PTO takes a really long time to get their act together so I should put in my application as soon as possible. I decided that I'm going to submit it after my next committee meeting in January, as I think I'll have a little more firm grasp on when I'll actually be finishing then.

Upset Saturday - crazy! I was especially mad at Texas (20-point loss??) and Oregon (fumbling the ball inches before the goal line??) But yay to Wisconsin, and I suppose to USC for managing their win (a little too close for comfort at the end though) despite something like 160 yards in penalties. Wisconsin-Michigan State = a fight on field, and over 1000 yards combined total offense...good stuff. Despite only getting 4 correct picks, I still managed to hold on to first place in my group and extend my lead to 8 points over second place (Sarah).

I'm doing a college fair in Frederick on Wednesday evening.

My snowman shirt finally came in on Saturday! I'm wearing it right now, actually :-)

Another month done. Geez.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Are you ready for some

Cinnabons. I mean, football. I mean, yes.

Matt's taking me to get cinnabon when he gets out of the shower. Or I'm taking him, I'm not sure, since his arms are now defunct due to lifting yesterday. And then football in an hour and a half!

Don't try this at home. But I heard that if you cut off a cat's whiskers, they lose their sense of balance and walk into walls and stuff. The intarwebs could not completely confirm this; I also read that they're used more for judging spaces and not balance, and that they'd be more likely to get stuck in a small space than fall over. But either way...don't try this at home :-)

How the stork *really* got into the baby business.

Video: lazy kitteh - hehehe.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Fortunate

I am super glad that I bought this coat and this dress when I did, because they're both out of my size now. Carpe Diem, eh? I was also amazed that a sweater that I wanted, that was completely sold out, came back in stock just in my size. And my snowman t-shirt finally shipped. They were kind enough to not give me a tracking number, so as not to spoil the suspense. I'm totally being sarcastic there.

I am not doing *anything* this weekend but relaxing. And watching lots of college football. Matt wrote on his poker blog today: "We don't really have any big plans, so I will most likely be playing some poker and watching some football. Sounds like a good time to me, especially since my wife likes watching football too. Yes, you read that right. I'm pretty much one of the luckiest guys out there. I'm married to a woman who arguably likes college football more than I do. How awesome is that?" Hehehe. He's probably right.

The preliminary estimate I got from the Ford service center was $4900 in damages. Woooo-wee. At least they said they were pretty sure they were going to be repairing the car, though I've not had confirmation from either them or Nationwide on that yet. I'll have to call on Monday.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Meh, who cares about science anyways?

My response, when hearing about how parents of autistic children are continuing to file lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers despite MANY studies showing that there is no correlation. A legal expert, about how taking the cases to civil courts (instead of through the VICP) may be beneficial to the parents' cause: "Experience tells us that jurors don't trust or necessarily understand science and they are likely to make a decision completely independent of it." Nice.

Also quoted from the article: "But the impaired social and communication skills associated with this condition tend to manifest themselves between 1 and 3 years of age—the same time during which most childhood vaccines are administered. For many parents whose children developed the devastating neurological condition shortly after receiving their shots, the link seems clear—no evidence is more powerful than their personal experience." Yeah, and I can think of a million other things that also happen between ages 1-3. Like walking. Yeah - walking causes autism...nearly every autistic child learned to walk around the time period that their disorder began to manifest! I'm going to sue now. How dare my parents risk my life like that, just to fulfill their rabid quest to make me bipedal-ly mobile?

Apparently there are cops out there who actually do their jobs, and write other cops tickets for moving violations. And apparently those cops are whiny enough to start a website to whine about the "jerks" that do their job correctly.

In Oregon, the Udink family was ordered to return their personalized license plates (with their name on it) on the basis that it was a sexual reference and/or a Vietnamese racial slur. How silly of all us Double Income, No Kids folks that have been referring to ourselves using a catchy acronym for years.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Best 1 point EVAR

Even though I had only put the Georgia-Alabama game at 1 point, that is probably the best 1 point I've ever gotten. I told Matt last night that I was surprised that something like 80% of the college pick'em players chose Alabama, because the game was supposed to pretty much be a coin toss and that several forecasters had picked Georgia for the upset. He pretty much thought that I was crazy and reminded me that "Georgia lost to SOUTH CAROLINA and it's at Alabama...any argument for Georgia is weak." Well, Alabama did manage to tie up the game and the Georgia field goal kicker missed a nail-biter from 47 yards into the wind in the last 3 seconds...he was okay on the length but went too far to the left. But after Alabama kicked a field goal in OT Georgia scored a touchdown on their first overtime possession. Sweet, sweet victory...awww yeah.

So, I don't know what happened to Pittsburgh, and Michigan is being buttfaces by doing the opposite of whatever I pick. I think it's a little unfair we've had to pick their game three weeks in a row. But other than that...Wake Forest did come back to beat Maryland, Kentucky put up a solid win over Arkansas despite being the "line" underdogs, Oklahoma State got in their win despite also being unfavored. And so far everyone else has done what they were supposed to. As long as Wisconsin can hold on to their 4-point lead for another two minutes, this will be my second best week and I'll still be solidly in the lead.

(UPDATE @ 11:45 - still leading my group by 6, back up to 8452 in the rankings for 94.3%. I'm happy.)

The black tie dinner/dance tonight was fun. The only thing was, I was *kicking* myself all night because, while I remembered the camera, I forgot to stick the stupid memory card back into it after I had put it in my computer a little earlier in the day. GRRR. Oh, and the "bartenders" were not really bartenders, I think. I asked one for a whiskey sour and she asked me how to make it. Ummm...I'd start with some *whiskey* and then maybe add some *sour mix* but that's just me. Apparently the same thing happened to David (Courtney Gleason's hubby) when he asked for some crazy concoction called a "vodka tonic." Ridiculous.

Headed home in the morning...can't wait to be back here in just under 9 months for five-year reunion!!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sweet Briar!

Yaaaay, I'm here! And I have wireless internet access, w00t! So the drive was uneventful. The Nationwide agent called around 10am to let me know that they would be covering the rental car from yesterday onward, so I don't have to worry about that. We'll have the car over to the shop on Monday. Now we just have to focus on the magic number, which is 6880. That is, dollars of damage at which the car will be declared totaled. I'm really hoping we don't have to go there...

I was able to find someone from my class fairly early on in the day (Courtney Yerdon Gleason) so we've mostly been hanging out together. Went to the "Sweet Briar Today" presentation with all the college updates and such (so I have the most up-to-date accolades when I go to college fairs) and then to the Founder's Day convocation and ceremony. We stopped at the bookstore in between, and I got a license plate frame (for when my car gets back from the shop) and a T-shirt that says "There's nothing like a Sweet Briar girl" - cute! And of course pink and green, nach.

I got to catch up a bit with Jill, my former academic adviser before dinner, which was nice. And my biology professor, Dr. Davies. It's funny how you end up on a first name basis with some professors and not others.

There's a networking event at 9 and then I'm done for tonight...back to the hotel to work on my class posts and maybe do a little catch-up reading - I got two of my three textbooks in this week.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mesmerizing

Blogger Play. WARNING: If you click on this link, you will never get any work done ever again. Ever.

Oh, and if you have a Google account, then put in a request to have Blogger Play as an RSS feed so that it can be a screen saver!

The week is over

For me anyways. I got the rental car today, but only because I went to Enterprise myself and handled it. Nationwide wasn't able to get in touch with the guy until Wednesday (!!) and then only contacted me at our home number, so I didn't get the message until almost 9pm Wednesday night. Note that I did ask to be contacted on my cell phone during business hours when I initially filed the claim. So then I tried calling the claim agent back all day, but he was out of the office. I finally got in touch with him at like 6pm, after I had already gotten the rental from Enterprise. He said that he'd try to get the rental covered from today but that he couldn't guarantee anything. What annoys me about all this is that my car should have been at a body shop two days ago and this shouldn't even be an issue.

In the end though, I think I'd rather pay the $25 a day to drive a car that I know to be structurally sound rather than one that's been declared "driveable" by someone who hasn't ever even looked at it. At most I'll be out $75 or so, since my car will be at the dealership by Monday morning.

But the whole thing is a hassle. I even had to give a recorded statement over the phone today, and I won't hear that the company has accepted liability for the accident until sometime tomorrow when the claims agent gets it authorized by his manager. Does Maryland not have the blanket rear-ending law anymore? I'm pretty sure they did in 2004.

Anyway, I'm headed back to the Briar tomorrow morning, for homecoming weekend. Should be good times. May or may not have internet access at the hotel. Either way, have a good weekend, and I'll leave you with a much happier picture than the ones posted below: Max helping Matt play computer games:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Updates

1. I have got to say, the people at Nationwide have been SUPER nice in all my dealings with them so far. If we ever need to switch insurance companies, they're at the top of the list in my book.

2. Further damage - not apparent from the pictures, but the back frame (underneath the very large dent in the bumper) is bent in a good bit, and the gas tank door is no longer flush with the side of the car. Actually, I guess you can see that in the second picture, but I didn't notice it until I got gas today. (Upon additional examination, I found that this is due to the fact that the right rear quarter-panel is bent in. There's also a small dent in the right rear door; the wheel well is likely bent outwards). Amazingly though, not a single light bulb was broken.

3. I did end up with some delayed-onset neck pain - because my head went back during the impact, the muscle on the front left side of my neck is fairly sore today. Nothing a few ibuprofen can't fix so far.

4. Driving through the intersection where it happened, there are tire tracks from my car where I was pushed forward, but no tire tracks behind them from his van.

5. I don't have a rental car yet, because Nationwide wasn't able to get in touch with the guy who hit me yesterday, but they assured me that it would be taken care of by the end of the business day today.

6. People do not tailgate you when the back of your car is smashed in. I don't know if they feel sorry for you, or if they think you're the type of person to slam on the brakes suddenly, but it's been nice.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A little more than a bump

This is what happens when you stop for a red light and the van behind you doesn't.




My poor car :-(

(p.s. Don't worry, I'm okay)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Yikes

In typical government bureaucracy fashion, the MPEP (Manual of Patent Examining Procedure) is over 3100 pages. Is this what I have to look forward to by the end of 2008? Stay tuned.

Starter husband???

Seriously, what is wrong with the world today. Quote from the article: "Marriage is the new dating and having kids is the new marriage." Ugh.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I <3 college football

Even when it doesn't <3 me. Although I have moved up in the ESPN rankings so far; I'm currently ranked 3540 with 97.5% correct. But I've been let down by Louisville, and I think I'm about to be let down by Georgia Tech as well (for a total of 15 points there). It doesn't matter in my group as much since we all picked L and GT, but I like to do well overall too (being a *girl* and everything). I'm not too concerned about the 3 points for Nebraska and Notre Dame. Man, the sports commentators have been *nasty* to ND today. Nebraska looked good at the beginning but I guess they kind of fell apart after a while. And I just couldn't pick Michigan, on principle. I hope we don't have to pick any more of their games. And what's this I just heard, Duke won a game for the first time in two years?? Something is truly wrong with the universe.

But in terms of points it looks like I'm going to do even worse than last week, and last week was pretty lousy :-(

UPDATE - WOW that was disgusting. I'm still leading my team (even though I came in 4th for this week - only 4 correct picks) but I've dropped to 22,410 on ESPN. I don't think I was ever this low last year :-( Damn you Louisville, Georgia Tech, BYU and Colorado!!! Three of you should NOT have lost.

Other randomness follows.

I luuuuuuurve the Origins Cocoa Therapy, which I tried out for the first time tonight! They smell so yummy.

I did my monthly Let's Dish today - shrimp scampi, rosemary steaks, pasta purses with garlic bread, southern crispy chicken with ranch potato chips, prosciutto-wrapped chicken and bruchetta chicken. Yum. Luckily I decided to make my appointment for 1:30 today, because I didn't get up until noon!

We have to start getting up earlier on Sundays because my sunday school class has started up again. This time we're doing "Really Bad Girls of the Bible."

Less than one week until SBC Homecoming!!

Uhhh...I think that's it. Happy Caturday :-)

Friday, September 14, 2007

IP humor

So the class that I'm taking, Legal Aspects of Biotechnology, is obviously mostly about intellectual property. One of the main portions of the class is threaded discussions, where the professor puts up 5-8 questions and we are expected to answer at least two independently and then continue to discuss our classmates' responses for a minimum number of postings. I noticed that an additional question had been added to the first unit, asking for a "top ten" style listing of important things to know about intellectual property. Credit goes to Peter Gabriele (no, not the singer) for putting together a worthy list:

1. When you learn prior art is not a painting.
Before you set your hair on fire and think you have just invented the wheel you should do a novelty search or patentability search before execution of the application.

2. When your notebook is more important than Nicholas Sparks’.
In the US the rule is “first to invent” and as such the proof to this is witnessed in a bound, dated and countersigned notebook. This is particularly important if there is a question of priority date of invention.

3. When “first to file” has nothing to do with your fingernails.
Outside of the US the general rule of priority is the first to file a patent application. This was one of the motivations of the Provisional Patent Application to get a “filed” priority date.

4. When “offensive rights” does not mean you can mouth off for 20 years.
Having a patent granted gives the inventor exclusionary rights to prevent others from practicing his/her invention and is often called an offensive right.

5. When Small Entity Declaration has nothing to do with your anatomy.
Patents are not just for big guys. If you are an independent inventor or a non-profit organization you can get your fees minimized.

6. The only time you can use the term “broad” and not get pinched for sexual harassment.
Once you begin drafting the patent you would like your claims to be manageably broad enough so you can have more latitude in property rights.

7. When your whole world collapses.
As an inventor you have to have a global mentality because laws are different in different parts of the world. If you disclose your invention in the US before taking consideration to filing dates you can lose world wide filing rights.

8. Crying in your beer over not so secret a secret.
One of the first decisions an inventor has to make is trade secret v. patenting. If they do it right the trade secret can last forever. However, one weakness is if the “secret” is discovered independently and patented the guy with the secret can lose it all.

9. When you find out that the word treble is not a musical term.
It is important to understand the patent laws because the penalty for infringement and willful infringement on top of that is triple financial damages.

10. A free $10,000 tattoo and 20 years to watch the ink dry.
It is critical to be honest in your patent pursuit because the penalty of perjury is 10 years prison and $10,000 fine.

Blinded me with science

Top 20 most bizarre scientific experiments - a lot of these would probably be shot down by IRBs today. I might get this book though, the online list is pretty darn interesting.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Holy crapoli, it's Wednesday already?

Where is this week going??

I've been working my patootie off at work trying to finish up the data for the (very brief) paper I'm about to write. Should have that done soon. I was at work until almost 8pm last night.

Went to the dentist this morning, everything checked out fine. My mouth is still a little sore. Ibuprofen is my friend.

Did another fMRI research study - this one paid in cash, whoopie! That money will be going towards shoes from Piperlime...which are supposed to be delivered tomorrow, whoopie!

Aaand my package from Origins is at the house...mmmm chocolate bath.

Now if I could just get my stinkin' snowman t-shirt! It was supposed to be in stock on the 6th, and it's said "On order, due in shortly" for the past week. Boo!

So I found out this week (Monday) that the paperwork for my class *had never been submitted* because they were missing my inter-divisional registration request (AKA "green sheet"). I filled that out on Monday afternoon. Tuesday I find out that the class is full!! But I was able to get permission from the professor and the host department chair to take the class. My registrar resubmitted the paperwork, and AAP tried to process it yesterday - and got a system error. Sigh. They're contacting the help desk, but as of now I *still* have no course access. And I've missed the first week of class. Good freaking grief, what a mess.

UPDATE: As of 9pm, I am finally in the class!!!
UPDATE 2: 11:30pm...textbooks ordered!

I absolutely LOVE this song...it's so pretty:

When your words come too easily for me to believe
And this paint goes on too thinly to peel away
I will find a silver lining sometime
Blur my vision, and I'll be fine, and I'll be fine

Burn the pages of the magazines, I hate the way they look at me
With every smile and every laugh, there's something I will always lack
And maybe, just maybe, an imperfect me will not be seen

When your words burn forever in my mind
And those greens and those blues seem too perfect to be true
I will light a fire every time I think to myself
"I will be fine, I will be fine"

Burn the pages of the magazines, I hate the way they look at me
With every smile and every laugh, there's something I will always lack
And maybe, just maybe, an imperfect me will not be seen

And I'll go on silently, and I'll be strong fortunately
This beauty is not clear to me, to me, to me
To me, to me, to me....to me, to me, to me

Burn the pages of the magazines, I hate the way they look at me
With every smile and every laugh, there's something I will always lack
And maybe, just maybe, just maybe
This beauty will be clearer to me...to me...to me
-Jupiter Sunrise, This Beauty

Sunday, September 09, 2007

It is finished!!


One thousand pieces in all its glory. Can you believe it actually took longer to get the framing completed than it did to actually do the puzzle? Michaels messed up the mat order; instead of giving me a 28x19 mat they entered a 28x19 image, to which the computer automatically added a 2" border. I ended up taking it because it still looked okay on the bigger mat and I didn't want to send it back to have it recut and wait another two weeks. So I just exchanged the framing pieces I had bought for bigger ones.

I'm not sure if it's obvious from the picture - the matting is midnight blue, 2 1/2", with a 1/4" black frame.

Sigh

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

Damn upsets. The highest score in my group this week was a 39/55 (I got 38). But the stupid Auburn game dropped me from 99.1% to 93.2%. What in the world was the stupid coach thinking, running out the clock to force the overtime instead of running a play or two in the last 30-ish seconds to get the field goal kicker, who hadn't missed a kick and had a career best of 49 yards in this game, close enough to seal the lead??

I guess I can take a little comfort in the fact that the average points for this week was 16.7, and the best was only 40 - holy crap. *Okay, for some reason the individual totals updated last night and the averages didn't. Lame. The average was 31.4, and at least 7 people did manage to pick all 10 games correctly...including one person who also had a perfect week last week.*

Auburn, Georgia, Michigan, Washington, and yes, VT all = lamers this week. Sigh. Hopefully next week will be better :-(

I need a shower.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Eric is a TRAITOR!!

How could a VT alum pick LSU in College Pick'em?? Please turn in your Hokie Passport immediately.

And goddammit, Michigan, what is WRONG with you?? 32-7 at halftime? In your OWN stadium? You're officially on the suck list for the rest of the season. I can't vote for you anymore, out of principle.

So it looks like I'm going to be down at least 5 points this week. Matt McHugh copied all my picks again, and we had a healthy lead on everyone else, but he ranked the Michigan and Boise State games higher than me! Barring any major upsets, I should still be good in the group at least. No, I don't count Michigan as an upset anymore. I was willing to say that maybe they were just having a bad week or got caught off guard or something. Now they're just losers. Bleh.

Didn't win the poster session. Bleh.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Belated birthday goodness

I got a card from Matt's grandma today with extra birthday monies :-D So I snapped up Cocoa Therapy from Origins (body butter, scrub, body wash) and the pre-order for the new PostSecret book! It'll ship on October 9th. Speaking of shipping, my snowman shirt which was supposed to be in stock today is listed as "in shortly" AGAIN. Grrr.

So...data! Not a home run, but a decent bunt to first base. I'll get a short paper out of it anyways.

Nothing yet on the class. Stupid registrar. Maybe tomorrow.

"Data is a four-letter word" - Ted

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Who was your first?

Carly and Matt made me do it.

1. Who was your first prom date?
Jason Strohman

2. Do you still talk to your first love?
Nope

3. What was your first alcoholic drink?
Some kind of wine at Robin Brown's house

4. What was your first job?
Summer intern at a navy biology lab

5. What was your first car?
'91 Honda Civic

6. Who was the first person you texted today?
Matt IMed me

7. Who is the first person you thought of this morning?
Does Max count? Because he was practically sitting on my head. Otherwise, Matt

8. Who was your first grade teacher?
I don't remember...moved around too much. I don't remember any teachers before 3rd grade.

9. Where did you go on your first ride on an airplane?
Detroit

10. When you snuck out of your house for the first time, who was it with?
I never snuck out of the house. I was the good child.

11. Who was your first best friend and are you still friends with them?
Martha? That's the first one I can remember. And not really, anymore.

12. Where was your first sleep over?
I don't know, but I know I lived in South Carolina at the time. Again, too much moving

13. Who was the first person you talked to this morning?
Same as #7 - Max or Matt

14. Whose wedding were you in the first time?
My parents'

15. What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Hit the snooze button

16. What was the first concert you ever went to?
Barenaked Ladies at the MCI Center in 1999

17. First tattoo or piercing?
Ears, at 13

18. First foreign country you went to?
Canada

19. First crush?
Did I have amnesia before third grade?? The farthest back I can remember is B.J. Jacobs

20. When was your first detention?
Umm...sixth or seventh grade. For talking. Big surprise there.

21. What was the first state you lived in?
New Jersey

22. Who was the first person to break your heart?
Good grief, again with the third grade...Nick Perrine

23. Who was your first roommate?
Jennea

24. Who will be the first to repost this?
I'm actually shocked that Matt already posted this, so I have no idea.

25. Whats your first thought about this person you copied this from after reading this survey and learning too much about them?
I am sooooo jealous that Carly went to HFS!!

Repost as "Who Was Your First?"

**So in summary, I apparently did not exist until I was 7 or 8 years old aside from December 9, 1983 and a sleepover somewhere in South Carolina. Weird.**

So close to success?

So...the additional charge was from the increase in medical/dental insurance payments that went into effect July 1st. Except all the graduate students were paid through August 31st. And the B.O. didn't let *anyone* know that there was an increase in premiums.

So. Premium increase paid Tuesday. Wednesday morning, I check my student account - $0.00 balance, account is listed in current standing, AND THE HOLD IS STILL THERE. Incredible. After all that I STILL had to call the B.O. and tell them "I don't have a balance, my account is current, get rid of this hold."

Finally, I was able to go to the registrar's office (in person this time) and have them resubmit the paperwork to the other division. So, I've done everything I can do on my end, and now I'm just waiting and hoping that AAP processes it.

Grand total: 36 e-mails, 7 phone calls, one office visit, 5 business days. The woman I called about getting temporary course access never got back to me either. Ugh.

Cross your fingers...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Awesome Saturday

Good weekend so far:
~Hokies win!
~Perfect score for week one in College Pick'em! (But so did Matt McHugh, grrr...as well as a buttload of other people, I'm sure).
~Concert was awesome! Lloyd Dobler Effect was great live (played Meet Me In London, Radio, Our Countries, and a bunch of other good songs). The Bridge was a great jam band, Jimmie's Chicken Shack rocked, and of course, VaCo!

Set list: Green and Grey, Lonely Cowboy, That's What You Said, This is Him (Hurricane Song), Santa Fe, Lean On Me, Johnny Wonder, Likeness, Stars Align, Walk To Work

Pics:
At the show!

Lloyd Dobler Effect

The Bridge

Jimmie's Chicken Shack

Virginia Coalition

And today, I got my THIRD Fark headline! Oh, and I finished my PK homework and got that turned in, and did the revisions on a lab grant for someone. I think I'm going to have a Drumstick (TM) now.

The melody takes us someplace where we'd all like to stay
And all of your good love comes my way...This is our holiday
- The Clintons

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Happy September!!

T-minus 18 minutes until HOKIE FOOTBALL!!

AAAAAAND 6 hours until The Lloyd Dobler Effect, The Bridge, Jimmie's Chicken Shack, and Virginia Coalition!!

:-D

Friday, August 31, 2007

MAX

All the doors in our condo have an inch or go gap between the bottom of the door and the floor. This can make for some humorous moments, like when one cat is on one side of the door and one is on the other, and they start batting at each other. Or like last night.

Max has a couple of little stuffed mice that he likes playing with. Especially on the kitchen floor, because they slide around better. We'll often find them in the laundry room, or pantry, or coat closet because he's hit them under the door. Last night, he got a little too excited chasing it across the floor; as he was running after it, it slid under the door and he couldn't stop in time. Crash - headfirst into the laundry room door.

After we had finally stopped laughing, I said "This is why we have cats and not kids - it would be cruel to laugh at a child."

It gets better

Not only does my departmental administrator not know what the $57.50 in charges are, but *they don't even show up in her system* - how thoughtful of them.

I'm currently attempting to get a temporary registration so I can at least log in to the course until this is resolved.

Running total: 3 days, 29 e-mails, 3 phone calls.

Update (3pm): We're up to 31 e-mails and 5 phone calls. More fun on Tuesday, I suppose.

WHY is this saga STILL continuing

Okay, so the Medical/Dental charges were paid. End of story, right? WRONG.

Apparently there is still a total of $57.50 from two "Medical Health Insurance Adjustments." I have no idea what they are. But the business office proves once again that they are a bastion of inefficiency by not giving the account balance to my department admin when they called her yesterday (and were rude to her as well).

I was tempted to go to the business office myself with $57.50 in sacks of pennies and start throwing them at people.

So. NOW, this charge will get paid today. It posts on TUESDAY. If I don't get registered on Tuesday, then I don't know what happens.

*insert sixteen swear words here*

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Current pet peeve

People who use turn signals in parking garages.

No, you don't need to put that left turn signal on to let me know you're turning left. I figured it was a pretty safe bet since going right or straight would put you into a concrete wall.

Saga continues

So my tuition has been taken care of. But now I'm waiting on my medical/dental. It was paid today, but of course it won't post until tomorrow. I find it absolutely absurd that in this day and age an online payment made within the institution doesn't show up almost immediately, or at least within a few hours. When I make a financial transaction with my bank, it's listed in my account pretty quickly. To not have something even *show up* until the next business day is ridiculously inefficient.

So, the hold should (had better!) be removed tomorrow. Will I get same-day service with the registrar? I don't know. At least the class doesn't start until Wednesday instead of Tuesday as I had previously thought.

Rawr rawr.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wisdom from the Business Office

So, my departmental administrator handled the slip-up of the tuition payment transfer around noon. 3pm rolls around, my account is still being listed as delinquent, the financial hold is still present, thus still no registration. So I call and talk to someone at the business office. Aside from managing to find out that payments wouldn't be credited until the next business day (nothing like efficiency, it's not like I'm counting on that hold being lifted in order to do something), he also seemed to insinuate that this was somehow my fault: "If you're a student, you should have known that you had tuition charges. You're not here for free."

Actually, I AM here for free, thanks. More than free. And in the now 9 semesters that I've been enrolled, I have previously never had a reason to even *look* at my student financial account, because it's handled by my department. Not my responsibility.

He also said that it wasn't their fault that my department didn't take care of the charge in time for me to register for classes. Well, if *someone* - I don't know, maybe at the *Business Office* had mentioned the fact that the charge was overdue I probably could have taken care of this BEFORE registration. To quote Adam Sandler, that would be "information that would have been useful YESTERDAY."

So now I'm continuing to get screwed for something that is completely not my fault.

Saga continues tomorrow, I suppose. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

Well, it wasn't my address

It was worse.

Apparently there was a *financial* hold on my account. Because my fall tuition transfer hadn't been processed yet.

Oh, and my account was "delinquent." To the tune of over $18,000.

Now, I never worried that the financial portion of this mess would affect me. But the problem is that the whole time I've had to take care of this, I haven't been registered for my class and if it fills up before all this is processed then I am "up the creek without a paddle," as they say. At least as of noon today it was still listed as open so I'm still hoping.

The kicker? If I hadn't been trying to register for a class I never would have known about any of this. You'd think the business office would contact *somebody* about the fact that they hadn't received a very large sum of money.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Not a success yet...

So I got an e-mail from AAP registration saying that they can't process my interdivisional registration request because there is a hold on my account, and to contact my home registrar to correct it. Of course this e-mail was sent after 5pm so there's no way for me to even find out what the problem is until tomorrow. But there's no reason for there to be a hold on my account. If this is about my institutional address being incorrect (which it isn't, but for some reason a packet the registrar tried to send to me got returned to them and they made me walk all the way across campus to pick it up after I told them that the address they had on file was correct) I am going to be so mad.

There is no frustrated/aggravated face on my "I feel..." magnet. If I had any talent I'd draw one, but as it stands this is a serious oversight.

Aggravated? That totally does not look spelled right, but apparently it is.

I just have to keep reminding myself that it's worth all the hassle to not have to pay $2515 per class.

Success?

I finally got an in-stock date from the place I ordered my snowman tee shirt from - Sept. 9th. I don't really care that it's two weeks away. I just wanted to know when! So hopefully I'll get it by the end of that week.

I'm trying an experiment. I haven't been very consistent *at all* with taking vitamins, because I rarely eat breakfast in the mornings and taking a vitamin on an empty stomach makes me feel queasy. So I finally decided to bring them to work and try to take them after lunch instead. We'll see how it goes.

I'm pretty sure I didn't get registered for the first biotechnology class I tried to add this semester, as it was full by like August 9th and my registration wouldn't be processed until the 24th. But the second one I tried to add, Legal Aspects of Biotechnology, is still listed as open and I'm pretty sure that I'll be added to that one. And it's taught by the same professor that did the Tech Transfer class I took last year, who I absolutely enjoyed. I'm still checking WebCT because they hardly ever contact me to let me know if I've been registered or not (I didn't find out that I was in the Tech Transfer class last year until my registrar's office sent me my yearly transcript copy a couple of days before the class started).

Most nights it's crystal clear, but tonight it's like it's stuck between stations
- The Hold Steady

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Spending Money

Seriously, I have been on a tear this month. Between my birthday and getting paid for my research study participation, I've been spending like mad. I ended up with two gift cards, to Kohls and L'Occitane - got the Honey Comfort face mask from the latter and three shirts from the former (waiting for those to come, because they didn't have any of them in the store.) Old Navy purchases are obviously a staple of my life, and I also bought three sweaters from jcp.com, one of which I had to take back and re-order because the shipping bag said small but the tag on the sweater said large. Obviously someone didn't learn their alphabet. When I picked my order up at the catalog desk, the guy behind the register said "Sweaters? You know it's going to be 98 degrees tomorrow, right?" Luckily I didn't want to wear the one that I had to exchange. Oh, and I *finally* bought the tee shirt with the snow man on it that says "Chill." But I have no idea when I'll actually be getting it, as it's been back-ordered for several weeks. When I looked the week before my birthday, it said "Out of Stock - expected 8/15/07." When I placed the order on the 20th, I think, it still said that. Now it says "due in shortly" but who knows how long that means?

But I really need a real job, because there's still so much stuff I'd like...cocoa therapy from Origins...and pre-ordering the new PostSecret book...and a SBC or Hopkins hoodie sweatshirt...or both...stupid grad school.

Only 121 days until Christmas O:-)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Quotes

Facebook has a section in your personal profile for quotes. I was a little nonplussed at first, but I've been putting a few in as I come across things I like, and I have an interesting list going. For all my loyal readers without Facebook profiles, I thought I'd share here. The list, aside from my signature VaCo song line:

"To recap, you're currently discombobulated regarding my recent unfettered to fettered transitional state. Sort of a metaplasia for emotion." - Ted Brasky

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

"She is too fond of books, and it has addled her brain" - Louisa May Alcott

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."
- Robert Frost

"If we can hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate!" - Zapp Brannigan

"Women don't want to hear what you think. Women want to hear what they think - in a deeper voice." - Bill Cosby

Friday, August 24, 2007

Prizes

My lab got together a pool for tonight's Mega Millions drawing. The last announced jackpot sum was $206M. We bought 60 numbers, and I'm happy to report that we will be claiming a small portion of the prize money. $6, to be exact. Dividends of $0.50 per person. Now, I know a lot of people will be interested in being my new best friend. Contact me and I'll send you an application.

Downloading the way it was meant to be

Seriously, before the RIAA tried to make it punishable by death or something. I spent my karma points (27) on PayPlay for free tracks, and only ended up tossing two. More importantly, there's at least three albums I want to buy now...The Things I Can't Explain by Aaron Howard, On My Own Two Feet by Granian, and Away From Here by The Retrofits. THAT is the way the universe is supposed to work.

Another free track tomorrow!

Today was the first day the sun came out in 4 days.

In the theme of Liz's "children mcnuggets," I think "frat-boyardee" might be my new favorite word.

Cars

Well, just Matt's, really. I had to get up early to bring Matt back from the Chevy dealership after dropping his car off. The ABS light has been randomly coming on.

I know FORD = "Fix or Repair Daily" but I'm really a little peeved because this is the second Chevy that we've had that has had problems with the ABS. With the blazer, we paid a thousand bucks to have the ABS system fixed only for it to fail again, in a different way that wasn't covered under the repair warranty, a month later.

We're never buying another Chevy again. Sorry, dad, they just don't make them like they used to.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New Music Store

I am absolutely in love with PayPlay.fm - it's a music store that a) sells mp3 files, b) costs $0.88 per track, c) pays artists around 2/3 of the purchase price (unlike iTunes, which pays less than 1/10) and d) has a "karma system" that gives you points for browsing/buying, which can be spent on over 64,000 free songs. I found it because I wanted to buy the Lloyd Dobler Effect song "Meet Me In London" through somewhere other than iTunes. After I bought it, I also spent one karma point to get "Better Times" by the Brooks Wood Band - found them through a "similar artists" search for VaCo. Check it out...you get 25 points just for signing up, and one point every day you log in (even without buying anything)!

I also got "That Spells DNA," "Baby Got Back," and "Code Monkey" by Jonathan Coulten (directly though his website).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Three more whoppers from the Prez

On Monday, Bush made it more difficult for states to add children to the CHIP program (insurance for uninsured kids). Because the republicans don't care about you *after* you're born.

Today, Bush compared the war in Iraq with Korea and Vietnam, saying that they were both "...U.S. involvements in Asia that lost popular backing but eventually proved their worth and led to lasting peace." Right, we did a stellar job in Asia.

Bush also pledged a "flood of help" to Minnesotans. But I don't think anyone is laughing at his little pun.

"Don't blame me, I voted libertarian!"

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sweet Briar Success!

Pink and green for the win - The Princeton Review named Sweet Briar College #1 for "Most Beautiful Campus." Lest you think it's not true, I will repost this picture from a few years ago of the lake in October:



However, we are not only about the superficial. We were also voted #5 for "Best Career/Job Placement Services." Though I don't see why we're not number one - 92% of graduates have a job or grad school acceptance 6 months after graduation.

Other rankings were #8 for "Professors Make Themselves Accessible," #10 for Professors Get High Marks, #13 for "Class Discussions Encouraged," and inclusion on the Best Southeastern Colleges list. Yay!

You can read selections from the list on MSN and the entire collection of rankings here.

"Sweet Briar College - where you not only can do it all, but you do it while wearing a pink ribbon and pearls."

Happy birfday to me

Wait, now I'm old...

Carly took most of the pictures from the Birthday Bowling Bash on Saturday. We had 10 people in all for bowling, which was a lot of fun. We came back to our place afterwards for ice cream cake, Trivial Pursuit, and Apples to Apples - great fun. Stolen pictures:

Matt got me a pink and green ice cream cake!

Me and M at the bowling alley

Me and Amena-licious

I finally broke the curse of the nines with a spare!

Carly and Eric gave me a new puzzle to work on...

...and a card with nuns on it :-)

Matt got me tickets to see Jim Gaffigan at the Warner Theater in December, and we went out to dinner at Red Lobster Sunday night. I also bought a bath pillow, new jeans, a tee shirt and pink and green plaid pajama pants :-)

Class is over! Now I just have to finish the homework...but that doesn't require getting up at 5:30AM.