Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Yay Carly!

Carly uploaded pictures from the Murder Mystery Dinner last weekend :-)

Who killed Roger Watersdowne?

The Cast: Matt, Jeremy, Eric, Mike, Dan, Me, Ashley, Carly, Pam

I haven't worn that dress since 2002.

I loved Carly's caption for this picture:
"Courtney and Carly, and all that jazz"

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Odd

So I tried to log in to the Direct Loan Servicing Center today to check my current student loan balance. When I entered my login information, I got this message: "If you are logging in to view your account, our records indicate that you do not have a Direct Loan account that is being serviced by us."

That's funny, because I did three months ago...

Did someone give me a belated Christmas present? :-)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Brief question

Does anyone else see the irony of a "president" who, despite the will of the people and of congress, proceeds forward with his plan to force democracy down another country's throat? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

It's sad

When some Christians turn out to be as bad as some atheists.

I am referring to the recent hullabaloo over an elementary school teacher doing yoga with her students. Some are claiming that teaching yoga in public schools violates the separation of church and state, since yoga originally has its roots in Hinduism. Personally I think the fuss is just silly, for several reasons.
1. Yoga is not a religion. It is a practice that is included in the Hindu religion. To call yoga a religion is as silly as calling singing a religion.
2. Americanized yoga is so far removed from the religious practice of yoga that they hardly bear resemblance to one another. Even the YMCA teaches yoga classes as a form of relaxation and fitness.
3. If we are to say that yoga violates separation of church and state because it can be construed as promoting the Hindu religion, then must we also eliminate snack time because juice and crackers can be construed as "communion," or eliminate swimming because it can be construed as "baptism," both of which promote the Christian faith?
4. People are stupid, as evidenced by this comment: "...apparently none of you know or even care enough to look into the background of yoga, the demons that can be evoked from practicing it and the violent nature of it."
5. I'd bet my paycheck that the very same people whining about separation of church and state are the ones who complain when their kids can't sing christmas carols. Can't we all stop being so petulant and allow kids the benefit of the doubt that exposure does not equal indoctrination, on any side of the equation? Geez.

You know who else is stupid? The Bush administration. I know, I know, this one's obvious. But I just wanted to point out that the administration is cutting the National Cancer Institute's budget for the second year in a row. Good job, guys.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Pop quiz

Guess who's leaving for the weekend on a high note (research-wise) two weeks in a row?

(crickets chirping)

Me!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Do I look like I'm broke??

So I'm at the mall today getting a few things for Saturday. As I'm walking along one of the mall corridors, this guy comes up to me and starts what turned out to be some kind of business pitch. He was talking in somewhat of a low voice, and I was having trouble hearing him, but I caught "opening up a new center" and "keeping your options open." I looked at him blankly for a second or two, and then asked "I'm sorry, what is this for?" He said something about financial services. I looked at him blankly again for another second, and then said "Like banks?" He says "No, we work with families to help them get out of debt." At that point I'm laughing and said "I'm sorry, we're not in debt!" as I walked away.

But out of all the people walking through in that mall corridor at that moment, he thought *I* was the one most likely to need the services he was peddling??

Oh, and I saw a totally awesome shooting star the other night.

Oh, AAAAAND I ordered a Nintendo DS lite today from EB Games. I have no idea when i'll get it, but at least they're "back ordered" now instead of "out of stock."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Letdown

There's a billboard on my way home from work. For the longest time, it was nothing but black text on a white background: "What if you didn't know?" I thought it might have been something about HIV testing; Matt thought that it was something religious, do you know where you're going when you die or the like. The other day, the billboard had been updated. It's for the Baltimore Sun. How humdrum.

Monday, January 22, 2007

New Habits?

I started doing two things today.

The first was "morning pages" - three handwritten, stream-of conscious pages in the AM. Basically a brain-drain of sorts, to get all the extraneous stuff out so you can focus on more important things.

The second was a "flatter belly" workout. It's 30 minutes of cardio 5x a week (I count my brisk walking around campus as cardio so that helped me fit it all in) and then 10 minutes of either yoga (2 days), strength training (2 days), or core abdominal moves (1 day). 186 days until vacation!

I also started my second online class, Technology Transfer and Commercialization. It's a good thing I'm a fast reader, because there is an *enormous* amount of reading for that class. But no quizzes or tests, which is nice.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tell me about it

Quoted from Carolyn Hax's Washington Post column today:
The fact that people are different from you -- in habit, taste, culture, faith, sense of humor, sex drive, intellect, income -- is not personal. It's not an insult when people don't change to please you; it's not an insult when you can't change to please someone else. Even people close to you.

If you like and accept who you are, you aren't going to fear other people's differences, or your own, as a threat. You can handle a few negative reviews.

But if you have doubts, other people become reflections of those doubts. They become the critics you need to impress to show yourself you're okay; they become the people with "potential," the ones you hope will validate you by learning to do things your way; they become the abusers who feel right and familiar and comforting because they share your low opinion of you.

Think of it this way. Obviously, we're fine with liking and disliking others freely. Someone doesn't do it for you, you move on (often after telling everyone how you feel). But we often get hung up on granting others that same license -- specifically, license to dislike us, much less discuss it with others.

So we fight ourselves, through them, and fight them, too, and force closeness where maybe distance belongs. All efforts to prove we're okay.
Amen, sister.

It's snowing!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

OMG some people are stupid

I've been playing The ESP game. It's a project to tag all the (work-safe) images on the internet. You are randomly assigned an anonymous partner, and given a set of 15 images. You are supposed to type one-word descriptions of the image, and if one of your descriptions matches your partner's, you get points. There are also "taboo" words that you're not allowed to use (I'm assuming once a certain number of people tag an image with a word it becomes taboo).

You can also see one of your partner's guesses at the end for every image that you didn't match. That's how I find out things like the person who typed "picture" for one of the images. THEY'RE ALL PICTURES. And things like this. First, the end-game screen without their guess:


Now I was typing things like call, talk, face, nose, lips, man, profile, mobile. No match. Because this was their guess:

Sigh.

Anniversary

Today was my two-year anniversary at Let's Dish (I first went in January 2005). As a thank you, I got a free dish AND a free dessert. Yay, rosemary-parmesan potatoes and chocolate chip scones! And they wrote "Thank you for being so loyal!" on my card.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Maybe you should just change yourself

Woah, where did that week go??

The bible study class I'm doing right now is on the book of Revelation. There's a very...interesting woman in the class. I think she's there to teach me patience.

We're going over to Matt Green's place tomorrow for pizza, video games (PS2 and Wii), and This Is Spinal Tap. Should be a fun evening, provided nothing happens to the car. Speaking of the car, we finally got Matt's back tonight. That was the biggest hassle, and I wasn't even dealing with any of it.

We've got a busy weekend next weekend too. Saturday is the murder mystery party at Jeremy and Ashley's (I'm soooo excited about this!) and then Sunday is Lauren's baby shower. Fun abounds.

I had a bunch of links to write about, but I don't feel like it anymore. I will plug one thing though: Morning Coffee. It's a Firefox extension that lets you bookmark stuff in the M.C. file under different days, and then when you click the button (of course it looks like a coffee cup) it opens up all that day's pages in tabs. So awesome! How I came to find this plug-in was not so awesome though. Hopkins did something weird to my computer when I tried to access the internet in a building other than mine, something about a dynamic IP or whatever. But whatever it was they wanted me to do, I couldn't do it. It just gave me an error page. So whenever I opened a Firefox window or clicked home, instead of getting my homepage (My Yahoo) I got the Hopkins login page for whatever it was they wanted me to do. I uninstalled/reinstalled Firefox, and tried to save my bookmarks and stored passwords, but it didn't work. So I lost everything...bookmarks, toolbar, themes, extensions, stored passwords, etc. That was a fun couple of hours. But yay, Morning Coffee. Download it. It will make your life happy.

Oh, one more link...this is an awesome photo of Tokyo. It's taken using "high dynamic range" photography - they take several photographs of the same shot at different exposures and then merge them together. Pretty schweet.

I finally got my transcript from Hopkins, and mailed out my scholarship application today. Hopefully in 6 months I'll be $1000 richer! I'm also working on my cancer camp application AGAIN. And apparently I was able to get registered for my second online class, which I didn't realize until I got my transcript and saw the class listed on there (that starts on Monday, by the way) because they're really lousy about contacting out-of-division students.

This is my new desktop.

I just saw the commercial for Karaoke Revolution: American Idol. We have to get that, so Simon Cowell can yell at me :-)

I figure that's about all I got for now. Bye!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

2006 year in review

So I did this last year...seemed like a good thing to do this year too.

1. What did you do in 2006 that you'd never done before? Traveled overseas

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I didn't make any last year, but I like Carly's idea about not worrying so much about what other people think of me for this year's. I also want to finish up a couple workbooks that I've started.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Gillian (Morwen) and Jen (Bennett)

4. Did anyone close to you die? Matt's grandmother, Mima, who was very close to me as well

5. What countries did you visit? Iceland (briefly) and The Netherlands

6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006? a pink Nintendo DS lite

7. What date from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? November 3rd, for taking a large step forward in a personal matter

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting my first A+ in grad school (in Cellular and Molecular Basis of Disease; I didn't even know they gave out A-plusses) and stopping reading someone's webpage

9. What was your biggest failure? labwork

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? had the flu

11. What was the best thing you bought? I bought Matt a flat-panel monitor for our anniversary

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Matt

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? George W. Bush and the accuser in the Duke "rape" case

14. Where did most of your money go? skiing, music, and my old navy credit card

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? VaCo show, Movin' Out, spa trip at Foxwoods, going overseas, Kim and Mike's wedding

16. What song will always remind you of 2006? This Is Him (Hurricane Song) by Virginia Coalition

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? happier
ii. thinner or fatter? about the same
iii. richer or poorer? slightly richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? laughing

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? commuting (still) and worrying

20. How will you be spending Christmas? We went to my parents' for Christmas eve and Christmas morning, and then flew down to SC on Christmas day for a week.

22. Did you fall in love in 2006? Same answer as last year: With the 80s! (song reference)

23. How many one-night stands? I still can't think of anything funny to put here.

24. What was your favorite TV program? Lost, How Do I Look

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? no one new comes to mind

26. What was the best book you read? My Sister's Keeper and The Time Traveler's Wife were both very good

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Alexi Murdoch, Ryan Adams, Chris Joyner

28. What did you want and get? a thesis proposal and committee meeting, amazingly still managing to be the first one in my class to do so. And all three Postsecret books.

30. What was your favorite film of this year? Chronicles of Narnia

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 25 - spent the weekend at Deep Creek Lake with friends from church

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? someone to come clean the bathroom

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006? Old Navy, pretty much

34. What kept you sane? still God, I don't think there's any other explanation

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I still don't say fancy, but I guess Stephen Colbert and Finola Hughes

36. What political issue stirred you the most? OTC birth control, from the FDA director ignoring his panel's recommendations to "activist" pharmacists

37. Who did you miss? Matt and Sarah, Ryan

38. Who were the best new people you met? Adam and Kristin, Jeremy and Ashley, Nick, Archana, Amena, Swathi, Tito. I met a LOT of people this year.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006: If you're at your lowest, you've got nowhere to go but up.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: "Now I'm sunny with a high of 75 since you took my heavy heart and made it light, and it's funny how you find you enjoy your life when you're happy to be alive" - Relient K again, interestingly

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Trivia question

Somebodies need a daily beating with a rubber hose for the rest of their lives...guess who?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dichotomy

On one side, life at $7.25 an hour.

On the other side, lucky westerners.

I'm so thankful that we are in the second group.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Just before bed

Matt went to bed early because he has to take his car to the insurance adjuster at 8am tomorrow (today, whatever). I stayed up and half-watched the BCS championship game. 41-14...FLORIDA. Who was that out on the field? Other than scoring on the very first kick-off return, OSU was pretty lame. Whatevs.

MySpace lets you put a ton of pictures up on your profile now. That's really cool.

I'm about 75% done with my data analysis...w00t.

I downloaded some music from The Internet Archive last night. Some of it was decent (Echoes, The Fisticuffs and if:then:goto). Some of it was awesomely bad (Spencer Owen and Morella). I'm going to try to download a little more tomorrow...some stuff by The Wades, Hardcore Ballerina and Shacker (I'm just browsing the site by artist descriptions). It's an interesting website. I had no idea that there was a genre called vomit rock. Maybe my career as a musician isn't hopeless after all.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

So much for 14 months

The New York Times and the Washington Post lead with previews of the Bush administration's forthcoming plan to increase the breadth and depth of America's commitment to the Iraq war. The plan, provisionally titled "A New Way Forward," will send 20,000 additional troops to Iraq over the next several months in an attempt to stabilize Baghdad...The troop increase would largely mean extending the tours of soldiers already in Iraq and cutting the stateside time of those who have rotated out.
Greeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaat.

Oh, and this doesn't sound like "a new way forward" to me. It sounds like the same way as before. And they wonder why enlistment is down.

Crazy happenings

In NCAA basketball, UVA pulled a huge upset over Gonzaga 108-87; VT blocked a 3-point shot in overtime to beat Duke 69-67. And the USC field-goal kicker was found dead at the bottom of a cliff 5 days after playing in the Rose Bowl.

Every time we go to Matt Green's house, something bad happens. This time it was getting rear-ended on 66. And watching She's the Man.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Let the record show

I purchased 10 clothing items with my christmas money so far, and none of them are pink. (Grey, brown, blue, cream, purple, black, and navy if you cared).

I really love that in the areas around Hopkins they've been installing the crosswalk signals that count down for you.

Finally got my data disk from the microarray facility...that only took 4 months. And yay, 330,000 pieces of data that is 99% worthless, and now it's my job to find the 1%.

Carpet cleaning, day 2. We might be having dinner with Matt's aunt tomorrow if we finish up today. I love Brain Age, but it frustrates me that I seem to do worse on the brain age check that gets recorded for the day than if I retake it again not for keepsies. Matt's currently beating me. But I can read faster than him, haha!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Lunchtime fun

First, Wired News's 2007 predictions (much better than Pat Robertson's predictions).

And then, two funny/interesting photosets:
- What does 200 calories look like?
- Jaguar completely covered in post-it notes.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Inside you time moves, and she don't fade away

Alrighty, I'm finally getting around to doing this. I figured that being home with a cold, I could at least put my time to good use. Soo much to write about!

So...Christmas parties. Matt and I both attended his office party and Carly and Eric's party. Both were really fun...I won holiday trivia, but then my team choked in the guessing game (I don't remember what it was called) and Matt ended up eeking out the lead. He won a santa hat (which he wore for the rest of the night) and a Starbucks gift card (which he promptly handed to me). We ended up taking home gift cards to Best Buy and iTunes in the gift exchange; Carly appropriately got the pi(e) plate, and I forget who ended up with the sudoku-a-day calendar we brought. Matt played video games downstairs while I watched A Mickey Christmas Carol and The Simpsons Holiday Special upstairs with Carly and other people. I liked it better than last year...it was fun getting really dressed up and everything. I also went to my lab's and department's holiday parties, which weren't as good, but hey, free food.

We went to my parents' on the 23rd and spent Christmas eve and Christmas morning with them. We went to Catholic mass (which I felt was an exercise in anthropology for me, haha) and then had stuffed shrimp for dinner. Christmas morning brunch was apple cinnamon french toast casserole, scrambled eggs, sausage and fruit salad...yum. Matt and I opened gifts from my family and half of the gifts to each other. He got me the iHome stereo to replace my old Aiwa system...it's really awesome! And I had no clue that he had bought it either. I also got a sweater and a black blazer, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, the two Postsecret books and two books on digital photography, pearl earrings (I lost one this year that my parents gave me for graduation), a Borders gift card and some little stuff in my "santa bag" (mom couldn't find the stockings).

We left for BWI around 1:15...it was a little slow because of all the rain but we got there in plenty of time. However, all the outer economy lots were full, so we had to park in the hourly garage (which had fortunately been reduced from $20 max/day to $10). Our flight was a little bumpy during takeoff but otherwise uneventful. Matt's dad picked us up from the airport, and I thought we were doing Christmas round two that evening. We ended up doing it the next day, however. Matt gave me the bracelet I had asked for (a silver cuff with three raised daisies on the top, and it says "...and she lived happily ever after..." on the inside). I also got more Christmas money, a white purse filled with B&BW sweet pea stuff, two pairs of silver hoop earrings, Walk the Line, some little Christmas figurines (I jokingly pointed out later in the week that I have never needed to buy myself a single Christmas decoration or ornament), and money to pick out a bathrobe and slippers. We also did stockings here; mine included chocolate and Burt's Bees stuff. While we were down in SC, we had lunch with a friend of Matt's from high school, went out to dinner with his family at Olive Garden, and went with Julie to see Night at the Museum (which was a pretty good movie) and to one of her physical therapy sessions.

Our flight back to Maryland was overbooked, so we took off late because they had to find people who were willing to wait for the next flight (not us, we had a game to catch!) They also made us check carry-ons at the gate. Getting home from BWI was an experience...Ford's funeral procession + game at FedEx field = every major southbound highway backed up for 15+ miles. We ended up weaving around back and forth on side roads to get around it all. By the time we finally got home we were starving, so we threw all the stuff into the house and headed over to the Washingtonian center. We had planned to try out Red Rock Canyon Grill, but the wait there was 60-70 minutes so we went to California Pizza Kitchen instead. We came home to watch the game and I set up my iHome system. The Hokies looked great during the first half...I don't know what happened in the second half. 'Tis the VT bowl game curse, I suppose.

We went to church on Sunday morning, got some lunch at Boston Market (their turkey sandwich is so yummy) and then went over to Matt's aunt's house for New Year's festivities. His uncle cooked a yummy beef tenderloin for dinner, and then we did gift exchange #3. His extended family gave me a cute mixing bowl with gingerbread men on the outside and a matching spatula, the necklace stand I had asked Matt for (he told his mom, and then his mom told his aunt), a Christmas ornament and an angel figurine, and a gift card to Blockbuster. His uncle had brought over a big screen monitor to watch TV on, so we caught a couple of football games and then rung in the new year with Carson Daly (ugh). We couldn't find Dick Clark anywhere, but I heard he looked terrible. I won the last Greed game of 2006 and the first game of 2007, which earned me yet another cute little Christmas figurine (do you see what I mean??)

We finally made it to bed around 1:30, slept in the next morning, and played some games of Sequence. Matt and I went to see The Good Shepherd with his cousin Robbie. I thought it was a really good movie, even though I ended up getting confused about several parts, trying to figure out where they were in the time sequence of the story and which of the Russians were the good and bad guys. I'm going to need to see that movie again. Afterwards, we met up with everyone again to have dinner at TGI Fridays.

And now we're back to the mundane stuff. Max has regressed in his litter box training (I have no clue why) so he's currently locked in the spare bedroom with a new litter box for a couple of days until he gets it through his head that peeing on my Christmas tree (or anywhere else in the house) is unacceptable. On that same note, we're cleaning our carpets this week. Grr.

I've spent about 2/3 of my Christmas money buying clothes from Old Navy and JC Penney, The Wedding Singer and The Princess Bride on DVD, and Brain Age for the Nintendo DS. I'm still trying to decide if I want to buy my own DS, but in the meantime Matt's letting me use his (and I'm letting him play my game, of course). Brain Age is really fun...there's little "training exercises" that you do every day and it measures and keeps track of your Brain Age. 20 is the best you can get...I started off at 46, but I'm already down to 28.

I went to the post office yesterday to drop off a return package of some things I bought from amazon.com. I realized when I got there and the gates were all still down that the post office was closed because of the national day of mourning for President Ford. Well, no problem, I thought! I had a pre-paid shipping label, so I just needed to drop it in a bin or whatever. Well, not only did they not have a package drop-off area (even though they had a scale to weigh and buy postage on smaller things) but they had LOCKED THE MAIL SLOTS. What the heck?? I ended up having to go back today, and I could feel my soul burning from the 15 people in line glaring at me as I walked past them all and handed my package to one of the people behind the counter. Sorry, guys...pre-paid shipping labels rock! I also mailed our vacation money to Carly this week for the beach trip this summer. I haven't been to the beach in a really long time, so I'm looking forward to it!

I went to work yesterday, but the week after vacation is always pretty much a wash in terms of actually getting things accomplished. I don't think I slept very well last night, and woke up with a sore throat, headache and a bit of a stuffy nose. I ended up sleeping until 11, and my nose and throat feel better at least. Now if I can just get rid of this headache.

So, 2006, not such a great year for me as a whole. The better part of the year was incredibly trying. However, I'm feeling much better now, and if the past 7-8 weeks are any indication of the forecast, I think 2007 will be a much better year.

"And that's all I have to say about that." - Forrest Gump

It's been a long December, and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass

And it's one more day up in the canyon
And it's one more night in Hollywood
It's been so long since I've seen the ocean...I guess I should
-Counting Crows