Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Widget Problems

It's not showing up, but I *did* run/walk 0.63mi today. Dunno if it's just because it was the "calibration" runs or what. I also ordered a little lace-on pouch because the darn thing kept slipping out from under my laces, even with a piece of packing tape to help hold it down.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Widget

I added the Nike+ Mini widget to my page. I figure I'd be a little more likely to stick with it if the four or five people who read my blog could rag on me if I slip back into laziness. Wish me luck!

Packages (boxes and bags)

Or maybe just boxes. I think my books from Amazon might come today, and my iPod accessories from the Apple Store will come today or tomorrow (depending on what time FedEx delivers, as I won't be home until around 12:30 today). Hooray!

P.S. I made two edits to my Year in Review post - I added a #21 and changed my answer for #25.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Year In Review 2008

This might be the first time I've managed to post this before new years. So, away we go!

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? Got a PhD!

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I did all three last year - paid off my car, opened a Roth IRA, and graduated (in that order). This year I want to open Matt's IRA, exercise more, and complete the "read through the bible" reading plan.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Molly (Henry), Ashley (Aubrey) and Nancy (Macy Jane)

4. Did anyone close to you die? My great aunt Annie

5. What countries did you visit? Just the US this year

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? A 401K account

7. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? December 18th - my thesis talk!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting a PhD

9. What was your biggest failure? Not having a job by the time I was done with grad school

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Came down with a stomach virus (possibly a norovirus) on New Years Day and was sick for nearly a week.

11. What was the best thing you bought? a cashmere hoodie, wii fit, new bible

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Matt

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Going to keep this answer private this year for the sake of avoiding teh dramas

14. Where did most of your money go? My Roth IRA, woohoo! And Old Navy, of course.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? vacation, SBC reunion, making the last car payment for a long, long time

16. What song will always remind you of 2008? "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? same
ii. thinner or fatter? fatter (but certainly not fat!)
iii. richer or poorer? roughly the same, but about to be poorer

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

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? worrying about things and people I can't control

20. How will you be spending Christmas? Spent christmas with my family

(Why did it take me four years to realize there's no #21?)
** I'm going to add 21. How will you be spending New Year's Eve? Exchanging gifts and dinner with Matt's extended fam, and then over to Eric and Emily's place. **

22. Did you fall in love in 2008? After 4 years, I'm tired of this question. It doesn't apply to old ball-and-chains like moi.

23. How many one-night stands? After 4 years, I'm tired of this question too. Do people even answer this when they HAVE one-night stands?

24. What was your favorite TV program? CSI

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? No one comes to mind. ** Anyone writing, filming, or appearing in a Jared commercial. **

26. What was the best book you read? A Life Decoded was pretty neat

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Jackson Rohm

28. What did you want and get? Personalized license plates and an iPod touch (thanks Matt!)

30. What was your favorite film of this year? Burn After Reading was hilarious

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 27, and on my actual birthday I was busy getting ready for my thesis committee meeting the next day. But on the weekend before that we played tennis with C&E, went to a Maroon 5/Counting Crows concert, went to see BodyWorlds 2, and went to dinner at Ruby Tuesdays.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? more certainty in my life plans

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Just my usual cuteness

34. What kept you sane? A light at the end of the tunnel, finally.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Eli Manning

36. What political issue stirred you the most? The presidential election

37. Who did you miss? Randi

38. Who were the best new people you met? Eric and Emily, Matt Duis

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008: If at first you don't succeed, try try again?

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: "Look around you now, you must go for what you wanted. Look at all my friends who did and got what they deserved. And there's so much time to make up everywhere you turn, time we have wasted on the way. So much water moving underneath the bridge, let the water come and carry us away." - Crosby, Stills and Nash

(YIR 2007, 2006, 2005)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Beginner's Luck?

We won our league's Fantasy Football Championship 236 234-231.5!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone had a good holiday week and got some good stuff. I got an iPod touch (!) as a combination christmas/graduation gift from Matt, some Old Navy gift cards, some Bath and Body works stuff, pink pajamas, sleeves for the wiimotes, silver earrings, a sudoku book, a mouse pad, chocolates and christmas money - with which I've already ordered the two newest Stephen King books (Duma Key and Just After Sunset) and some iPod accessories - a Nike + iPod sensor (the 2G iPod touch has built-in support), new sport headphones and an armband holder. Yay free shipping from the Apple Store and Amazon!

I gave Matt Settlers of Catan, Set and a CD (which turned out to be the wrong one, oops). He also got Barnes and Noble gift cards, a new VT t-shirt and some other stuff. I have the feeling he might be buying his own iPod soon.

Church tomorrow, volunteering in the church office Monday and Tuesday, getting together with some of Matt's fam at some point this week, doing something for New Year's Eve, and having Carly and Eric over for the VT bowl game on New Year's day. I can't believe there's four days left in this year. They were saying something on the radio today about the 1-year anniversary of Benazir Bhutto's assassination, and I was like "That was a whole YEAR ago??"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

How do you cite a tradition?

I think it's hilarious that there are 40 "citation needed" tags in Sweet Briar's wikipedia page.

Got the last two gifts (parking garage was a nightmare, ugh) and turned in the printed copies of my thesis (also a bit of a nightmare). Now I'm officially unemployed, woo.

More doneness

Packages shipped = check, thanks to M.
Cards mailed = check, and M helped.
Fudge made = check. And delivered, check.
Gifts purchased = sort of check. We're done up to the ones we're giving on Christmas day except for one, and I'm worrying about the rest later.
Gifts wrapped = mostly check. Matt has actually wrapped *all* of them except his own, haha. I'll wrap his on Tuesday while he's at work.
Cookies baked = check. Just have to package up a few to take to work tomorrow.

We skipped the decorating/tree this year. It was just too much with everything else going on.

Clearly I didn't do enough taste-testing while baking tonight, because I'm hungry. Snack time!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Phinally Done

Here's me totally rockin' the Hillary power pantsuit, along with M, after my thesis seminar:


Thesis seminar went smashingly well, if I do say so myself. Matt came, plus our pastor and his wife and another friend of ours. We all went to P.F. Chang's for dinner afterwards. I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep tonight - the first one in weeks where I don't have thesis presentation slides running through my head while I'm trying to fall asleep!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Update

Okay, so seeing as how I didn't get the job I interviewed for, and that as of December 23rd I'm going to be officially "unemployed," only goal #1 is feasible. Alrighty then.

I can think of at least a handful of people for whom the term "schadenfreude" now comes to mind.

Update on the Update: I have another job interview on January 6th. So perhaps I'll only be unemployed for three weeks. We shall see, I suppose.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2009 financial goals

All of the personal finance blogs I read are posting about their 2009 financial goals. There's a good post at The Dough Roller about setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound). As CFO of this household, here's ours:

1. Pay off the balance of 0% financing for our electronics purchases by the end of March.
2. Fully contribute to both Roth IRAs for 2009.
3. Increase our emergency savings account to $10,000 by the end of the year in preparation for CD laddering.
4. Open a 401k whenever I get a job (hopefully soon!) and contribute at least 10% of my salary.
5. Pay off at least $1000 in my student loan balance by the end of the year.
6. Open a taxable account to start saving towards the down payment on our next house.

(Slightly updated version here!)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Zoot suit riot

Or...just a regular suit. But a nice one. And a super price. I got this jacket and matching pants (in charcoal heather) for $45 with tax and shipping. Hope it gets here in time, hehe. It should though. I've already got a pretty blue button-down shirt to wear with it. Maybe I'll pick up a new pair of black or grey heels - my black heels are getting a little dangerous, because the heels wore unevenly. Stupid feet.

Now all I need is revised slides for my thesis presentation. And a job! Sigh - I submitted three more applications today.

I also got a new bible...call it an early graduation present :-) It's so pretty!

I haven't made any cookies yet, but I at least got everything to make cookies. And I got M two christmas presents. I gotta go to target sometime this week and get ornaments for the Sunday school party gift exchange, and a gift for the lab gift exchange, and square baking pans to make fudge, and little boxes to put fudge in, and christmas cards, and stocking stuffers for the lab adopted family. Whew!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Holiday 2008 yums

I finally got around to making the holiday cookie list for this year!

M&M chocolate chip
Cashew bars
Cranberry eggnog twirls (3 years running...these are SO good!)
Gingersnaps
Orange cardamom cookies
Andes mint cookies

Plus some cranberry-pistachio and peppermint fudges for good measure :-)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Heading into the postseason

We didn't do so bad for ourselves. Ended up 3rd out of 8 and off to the playoffs. Despite the early problems with our roster, we had a solid team by the end of the season (all rankings are based off of ESPN earned points as of this Tuesday):

Two top-5 quarterbacks (#3 Rodgers and #5 Rivers)
Three of the top 6 running backs (#1 Forte, #5 Barber, #6 Williams)
Top-ranked Ravens defense/special teams
Top-5 tight end (#4 Cooley) and kicker (#5 Longwell)

Really the only place we did just okay was with the wide receivers, and even then we still ended up with #5, 6, 7 and 11 in the rankings.

Plus, if you look at the top 15 scorers in our league - we've got five of them. No one else in our league has more than two. If only we had managed to get this roster straight out of the draft!

Thesis has been sent to the committee, and I'm submitting the requested writing sample for my job interview process tomorrow. Onward and upward!

Monday, November 24, 2008

College Pick'em is over??

That sure went fast.

Ended the season ranked 5169th which was good for 97.8%. Unfortunately it wasn't quite enough this year, because Matt actually beat me by 4 points! He got 98.2% and 4149th place. Lame.

We're just about guaranteed to win FFB this week, and Eric's already lost so we should have a near-lock on a playoff spot. Not bad for our first FFB season ever, especially considering the disastrous start we got off to.

Interview's in less than 2 hours. In the lab and meeting with R tomorrow, and then we're leaving at 7AM Wednesday to head up to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving. My thesis presentation is in 24 days and there's only 5.5 weeks left in the year! And I haven't made a single cookie or bought a single present yet, gah!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Status

Courtney has 124 pages of thesis - all five chapter drafts are done! Also have four slides done (of about 25) for my interview presentation on Monday.

Chopping 6 onions is HARD work. On to the jalapenos (on a stick? Jose? Hehehe).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

For reals

natalie dee

Busy-ness

Got a busy couple of days ahead. I need to finish the draft of my introduction chapter, and I have to put together a presentation for my interview on Monday. We're having people over on Saturday and going to Norm and Laura's for the premier of 24 on Sunday. And I gotta grocery shop and make chili and prepare for bible study and wii fit (I've done it 4 days straight this week!) and do my college pick'em picks and pack for Thanksgiving.

Besides the interview I got, I applied for one more job this week and recontacted people for three others. Jane is a great pray-er!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thesis drafts

So I've finished drafts of the four data chapters, finally - the last one was the hardest (and longest) of course. I have the (very) rough draft of the introduction chapter as well, but it needs a bit of updating. 118 pages total so far.

Gotta wii fit and grocery shop still today.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wii fit

Before yesterday, I hadn't really wii fit-ted much since summer time. I know I've put a few pounds back on since July (not necessarily in an unhealthy way) but I had to put in a 2-month goal, so I said -3 pounds. Call it a pre-emptive strike against the holidays, although I actually lost weight by the time last christmas was over due to the stomach flu.

Wii fit is so much more fun once you unlock the more advanced stuff. Especially the advanced cardio. I was pretty bored with basic step (too slow and too few moves) but advanced step is much better. Ditto with "super" hula hoop (longer and in both directions) and advanced boxing, which I was both confused about and sore from. I thought it was just going to be longer, but it had more moves too - stepping back, multiple punches, dodging, etc, and my arms were already sore from yesterday so I didn't do so hot on my first time. I also have "real" yoga moves unlocked now, like triangle and downward-facing dog.

I just put IcyHot on my arms, and now the cats don't want to sit next to me.

Thesis page count = 115.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Max's new toy


Super laser eyeballs ACTIVATE! I also realized it looks like I'm flying, which is pretty cool. But I'm actually just leaning over the end of the bed. My secret power will not be revealed so easily!

(Max looked a lot niftier when he was playing with my sweatshirt string while on his back, but by the time Matt had gotten the camera and came back into the bedroom, Max was on to us).

Also, I took this picture in the bathroom of a rest stop south of Petersburg, VA on the way back from NC last Saturday. I did not place my purse on the hook.

Unsolved Mysteries

There are reruns of the show "Unsolved Mysteries" on Spike TV now. It's kind of lame now though. They should call it "Solved Mysteries." Because the show hasn't aired in real time for so long, practically every snip has an update at the end saying they caught the bad guy or found the missing person or whatever. Plus the original guy that did the voice-over doesn't do it anymore in later episodes, and the other guy just isn't as spooky. Plus, they tried to get all technical and up-to-date with their "data" and so whenever they put words on the screen, it has this weird "digital" sound that gets old fast.

I turned in another chapter draft today, and worked out for 31 minutes on the wii fit. My arm/shoulder has really started to bother me by the end of each day from typing/using the mouse. But my figures are all basically made, so hopefully I won't need the mouse as much. And EndNote's Connect-to-PubMed was actually working today; last night I was getting pretty aggrevated because it kept losing the connection mid-search and I had to keep reconnecting after practically every single reference addition. Ugh!

Thesis is up to 110 pages, I'm predicting 120-125 by the time it's all said and done.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thesis

People only write one thesis, because theses sounds too much like feces.

I'm currently working on five chapters, including 6 tables and 36 figures. 97 pages total so far.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Snuglies and yummies

My Old Navy sweaters came today, hooray! Four new sweaters (pink striped crew neck, bright blue turtleneck, gray cowl neck, red shawl-collar) plus a cord skirt, a scarf and a cute tee. And it might even be warm enough for me to wear the tee this week, crazy.

Dinner at the Melting Pot was super yummy. We got the spinach and artichoke cheese fondue, I chose the caesar salad, we had the usual entree, and then cookies and cream chocolate fondue for dessert. So good!

Working from home today was really nice too. I've now gotten nearly all of my materials and methods sections done, a solid rough draft of the background intro chapter, and good starts on all three other intro sections. I'm in tomorrow for lab meeting and such, and then working from home Wednesday and Thursday before heading to KG.

Don't forget to vote! And then go to Starbucks and get your free "I voted" coffee!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Looking like a good week

Working from home a couple days this week, going to the Melting Pot with the work ladies on Monday, going to mom and dad's on Thursday, and we're all going to pick Daniel up on Friday. And then dinner at Pam and Mike's on Sunday. Woohoo!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's official

The chair of my thesis committee got back to my advisor today saying that what we had sent the committee looked like a lot of work (it was!) and that he was fine with proceeding. So other than finishing this last experiment I've been working on for most of the month, I don't need to do anything else and I can start writing things up.

I think I was so prepared to hear that there was something else that needed to be done, that it all hasn't quite sunk in yet? I don't feel any differently from yesterday.

But I bought some cute sweaters from Old Navy to "celebrate" anyways. Which just so happened to coincide with the fact that they're offering double reward points this week.

Now if someone would just give me a job...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

It's Gogh time

Oh ho ho, I made a funny!

I finished my other cross-stitch project (the one with a deadline). We're going to Michaels after church tomorrow so I can buy the stuff for my Van Gogh cross stitch! I'm so excited :-D

FIRST

I mean, *A* first. As in, the first time in my life I've ever had multiple job applications submitted at once. I'm so grown up.

So, I've applied for the NIH/NCI tech transfer fellowships, an analyst position with the American Chemical Society, the licensing position at George Mason, and a medical marketing writer position at Qiagen. Which made several people ask if we were moving overseas, hehe. Qiagen does have a number of overseas offices (in 12 other countries) but they also have US offices in California and in Gaithersburg, about 3 miles from our house. So no, we're not moving anywhere :-)

I wanted to take a nap (I'm still trying to catch up from a horrible night of sleep Thursday night) but I figured it would behoove me to finish the draft of my thesis committee update instead. We're planning on sending it in on Monday. I haven't had any graph updates lately because the last experiment, which theoretically could have been done in a total of eight days, hasn't been going so well. I suppose it was a little too much optimism to think that something just MIGHT work the first time I tried it.

Recorded a chapter about prokaryotes today, and we're going to a birthday party in like an hour.

Also, Firefox's dictionary didn't have the word "prokaryotes" in it. It suggested I change it to "eukaryotes" or "protestants." Ha!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yes, yes, and yes

From an article on birth order: "As a result of a stricter upbringing, for example, firstborn children tend to be more extroverted and confident, while second-born kids are more rebellious and open to new experiences, he says. The youngest child is usually the most creative and can be manipulative to get his or her way."

Sounds right to me. Link.

Someone please pay me

I'm really rather nice, and I don't smell bad or anything!

Hehehe. I just submitted my postdoctoral fellowship applications to the NIH and NCI tech transfer offices. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The country will get better

With all the rhetoric and finger-pointing going on in the final run-up to the election, I thought I'd go all moderate and point out a few things I'll be happy about regardless of who wins the election.
  • Expanded funding for stem cell research
  • Executive branch repudiation of torture as an interrogation technique
  • The likely closure of Guantanamo Bay
  • An agreement on nuclear non-proliferation
  • A healthy focus on climate change, including a cap-and-trade system for limiting greenhouse gas emissions
  • Renewed emphasis on volunteerism
  • Increased funding for cancer research
  • A move towards electronic patient records
  • An agreement on the need to shift military focus to Afghanistan
  • An overhaul of the Veterans Affairs system
  • A likely repeal of No Child Left Behind
  • An agreement that Warren Buffet is the smartest man to run the US Treasury, and if asked I hope he takes the job

Chucklecakes

Like grumblecakes, 'cept tastier. Funny Face McCain. (from the final debate).

Yes, it's real.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

B&B

We're never been to a bed and breakfast before. But we're going to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving, and we needed a place to stay, so I did a little research, and now we're staying here. Specifically, here. Should be a neat trip!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

$pending

I keep hearing on the radio about how consumer spending is down. One "statistic" is that we're projected for the worst holiday spending season in 20 years. It bothers me, and here's why:
People's previous spending levels were based not on how much they could afford, but on how "rich" they felt on paper.
When times were good, when people had flush 401k accounts and huge sums of equity in their houses, they "felt rich" regardless of their budget realities. The truth was, most of them weren't, since purchases were largely financed on credit and many spent more than they were earning, resulting in a negative savings rate for our country. But now the stock market is down, the housing market is down. People no longer "feel rich" and so they've adjusted their spending accordingly. But it bothers me that this is seen as such a horrible thing, because spending never should have run up like that in the first place! People are now spending like they should be spending, which is cautiously. Maybe we even save up for purchases instead of financing them, as crazy as it sounds (we're currently saving up for a new stove, and I'm also personally saving up for a spa trip on next year's vacation).

It just bothers me that we decry the behavior that gets us into situations like this, and then when people start to correct their habits, we call it a bad thing.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Great Falls, VA

We just did a little loop from Georgetown Pike down to the Potomac River and back up - less than an hour, maybe 2 miles or so. But it was nice! The weather was perfect for it too. We were about a week too early for peak fall color though. I think we need to go back next Sunday (we're busy allll day Saturday) and make it a more intense day.




(I thought the last one kind of looked like a silly face!)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Can that be...a FINISH LINE I see??

Ithinkican, ithinkican, ithinkican...
Proliferation assays = DONE. Western blots = DONE. Clonigenic assays = DONE. Although I still have to figure out what those 816 pieces of data mean. Now all I need is the promoter assays...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Rantification

I saw a license plate today that read BE XTIAN. I see this a lot on fark.com as well, when people refer to "xtians" in comment threads.

Now, I'm not ranting about replacing "Christ" with the letter X. I think it's silly about people who complain about "taking the Christ out of Christmas" and so on and so forth. The greek letter chi has been a symbol/abbreviation for Christ for over 1000 years. But come on people, it's xmas and xian, not xtmas and xtian. We follow Jesus who is the Christ, not some dude named Chris.

And thus concludeth the rant. Amen.

Friday, October 03, 2008

October

Well it certainly FEELS like Fall!

First progress graph of the month:
I thawed cells for experiment #4, so I figured that was worth 1% completion. #2 is done on Wednesday, #3 is done on Friday. I'm going to try to have my progress report to the committee on the 20th.

I submitted my resume/CL for a job at George Mason. Maybe we'll eventually move to Virginia after all, Carly :-P

We have something going on every weekend in October!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Progress update and The Un-Concert

First, the graph:
That right there is 21 days of work (since August 21st). That's a LOT of stuff. I have one more assay to count for #3, ten more western blots, and that dumb promoter assay (#4) that I don't even know where I'm going to be able to read yet.

----------

"Hey Honey, remember that time we paid $90 to not see the Allman Brothers Band?"

We went to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia tonight to see the Allman Brothers Band. The concert started at 6pm. The "opening" band was Phil Lesh, who apparently was one of the founding members of The Grateful Dead. Phil Lesh apparently has only five songs, each of them approximately 25 minutes in length. Phil Lesh played for TWO HOURS AND TEN MINUTES, by which time the 30% chance of scattered thunderstorms had turned into a monsoon. We waited in the rain for nearly 45 minutes, until my pants were soaked from hem to thigh, we were in real danger of being struck by lightening, and there was still no Allman Brothers Band. We left just before 9pm cold, soaking wet, hungry (did I mention that we hadn't eaten yet?) and livid. I don't think I had actually ever felt livid before in my life, until tonight. $90 down the drain. I won't even go into the horrible service at dinner afterwards, except to say that by the time they brought out salmon instead of my barbequed shrimp, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

I guess we should have gone to see the BSO Superpops instead :-(

That's a lot of red


No, I'm not telling you how much is in the accounts :-P Ever the eternal optimist: we're getting a great sale on the 401k and IRA transactions that are going through this afternoon! Seriously though...there's a lot of punditfuss about the biggest point drop in the history of the Dow, but in terms of percentages it doesn't even make the top 10. Silly pundits.

We were actually leading FFB by 1.5 points during the game tonight, but then the defense went to pot and we went from 12 points D/ST down to 5 and lost by 13.5 points in the end. I don't have any optimism left for today.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Week Four

It was our first bye week, so our player choices were a bit limited. Still, we were projected for 118.5 points. Ashley was projected for 132.5 points. Both of us have attempted to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at various points, and now we're currently sitting at 72.5-78. The crazy thing is that we have the Ravens D/ST playing this week, and she's got the Steelers D/ST - and they're playing each other tomorrow night! Unless the Ravens manage to do something spectacular on the field, I think we're looking at going to 1-3. Of course, we benched Chris Johnson thinking he wouldn't be able to get anything done on the ground against the Minnesota defense, and he put up as many points as all our other running backs COMBINED. Come ON!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Apologies to John Mayer

Why, Georgia? Why?

(Wisconsin and Purdue too)

Why is everything at such lousy times?

I want to go to the GSA-sponsored Monday Night Football event (free pizza, drinks and snacks!) for the Ravens-Steelers game, but the game doesn't start until 8:30 so I wouldn't get home until like 12:45am.

I want to go to the RFBD dinner at Maggiano's at the end of October, but dinner's at 6:30pm. If I'm still at work I'd have to leave at like 3:30 to make sure I got there on time, and either way there's no way Matt would be able to make it.

I want to see the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Superpops playing the music of Billy Joel (w/ vocalist Michael Cavanaugh, who did all the music for "Movin' Out") but it's next weekend and we're a) already doing stuff with family and b) already spending $90 to see the Allman Brothers Band on Tuesday.

Time sucks.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Freaking Long Week

How come the funnest weeks never seem as long as the busiest ones? :-(

Should be starting experiment #4 next week, I think...

We're going to see Lewis Black in October! It's gonna be a busy month - besides working and getting everything ready to send to my committee at some point that month, I have to give two presentations (one to my training grant group and one at lab meeting); we have a group birthday dinner, the MD renaissance faire, the aforementioned Lewis Black show, and dinner at C&E's. And that's just the first half of the month! Who knows what the second half holds...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Not so fantasy

Once again we were projected to win this week, and once again 6 of our players put up single-digit points values for us. Our bench actually put up 10 more points than our starters. Sigh. Still, we managed to only lose by 8.5 points. Eric sucks just slightly less than us, haha. I hope next week will be better.

Done for today

#2 and #3 are neck and neck! As of right now though, I'm going to finish #2 a week earlier than #3. Hope I didn't spoil the ending. Also, I tried to make the graph a little easier to read by adjusting the...well, I guess it's the y-axis, except rotated. Not that I don't go to 110, because I do :-P But #1 is still definitely 100% done.

Old Navy is no longer accepting gift cards online. WTF??

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Better or worse than starving children in Africa?

Mike left two bottles of wine in the house fridge when we went to the beach back in July. The Nusbaums took one and we took one, a Riesling. We asked Mike last weekend if he wanted it back but he said no. We opened it up tonight and tried it.

Me: I don't think I like it.
Matt: It tastes like wine for like, two seconds, and then nothing.
Me: It doesn't has a flavor.
Matt: Finish your glass.
Me: Do I have to?
Matt: There are alcoholics out on the street that would be happy to have it!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I lof these shoes so moishe!


Yep, that's Max taking a snooze pretty much IN my shoes. And that's Roxie guarding the new scratcher that the cats *actually use* OMG.

Not quite a week later

I *have* done work on experiment #3; it's just not reflected in the graph yet because I haven't collected the data and it's too hard to figure out the % otherwise. I have not done any work on experiment #1 #4. Experiment #2 has been flowing nicely. Does anyone want to do experiment #1 #4 for me? :-P

I'll update the graph again on Monday.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Science, food, football

Jorge Cham visited CERN and did a nice 5-part comic series on the LHC. I especially liked the second-to-the-last panel on part 4.

Dinner last night (and the lasagna) was fabulous!

We're projected to win FFB this round!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Progress

In the theme of GraphJam, except not really funny. There are basically four sets of experiments I needed to get done after my last thesis committee meeting. I'll start updating this on some sort of semi-regular basis. Stay tuned.

900th post!

I've been listening to Ingrid Michaelson's "The Way I Am" and Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" on repeat for two days. Lovely!

Three minutes of marmalade goodness

WANT!

(I was going to embed the video on this page but for some reason I couldn't copy the embed code off of that page. Bah)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

FY08

I got a letter from RFBD on their fiscal year statistics. While I was only with them for half the year, I'm pleased to be able to contribute to their success. I've volunteered about 50 hours so far!

From the letter:
Our volunteers recorded more finished product than ever before: 8,646 hours. To achieve this, 425 volunteers gave 22,280.38 hours of their time in the recording studio - and this skilled work is valued at $58 per hour, equaling $1,292,262 in donated services - a record.
$58 per hour? Clearly I'm in the wrong line of work, seeing as how I'm currently paid about $14 per hour. Now if I could only deduct that $2900 from my taxes!

So much for the rally

The DJIA closed Friday at 11,221. Over the weekend, the announcement came that the government was assuming control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The DJIA opened Monday at 11,556. Today, it closed at 11,250. Nice job, Lehman Brothers. Are you going to be the next Bear Sterns? I don't know who said it first, but this whole "privatize the profits, socialize the losses" approach is really starting to suck. I'd fire them all.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fantasy Football

Well, we had the worst week 1 out of any team in our league. Half of our team put up a combined total of 10 points: Brady - 3, Ocho Cinco - 2.5, Holmes - 2, Cooley - 0.5, Seahawks D/ST - 2. Bleh.

Ch-ch-ch-changes! We're obviously dropping Tom Brady (guh, what a disappointment) but we don't know for whom yet. We'll play Delhomme next week and see how some of the current free agents do, since we don't actually have to pick up a second QB until mid-season. We'll switch out Chris Cooley for Jeremy Shockey since Jason Campbell doesn't seem to have it together yet. Ahmad Bradshaw was complete deadweight for us. We've dropped him and will have Matt Forte by the end of the week. We'll pull Ocho Cinco and put him in, and possibly switch out Santonio Holmes for Calvin Johnson. We'll have to see. But I don't think we could do worse than this week (69 points!)

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According to my Facebook Countdowns, I have 56 days left to get my research done before Rhoda wants me to update my committee. Sigh. So far so good though, although it's only been 13 work days since my meeting. I'm just trying to get through each day and cross off everything on my to-do list for that day. I obviously have a master calendar, but if I try to go hard-core more than about 2 days into the future it's too overwhelming.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Those are good odds

On the odds that the universe will suddenly cease to exist next Wednesday when the Large Hadron Collider is switched on: "Look, it's a 10^-19 chance, and you've got a 10^-11 chance of suddenly evaporating while shaving." (link)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hyperbole at its best

Courtesy of fark.com, natch. (I have trouble typing the word "courtesy" because it's only one letter off from Courtney).
"If you elect Obama, he will go over to your home and rip your still-living fetus from your lovely white wife's womb and give it to a gay married couple, who will then eat it and immediately go out and apply for welfare. And then he'll pay some Mexicans to go break into your house and steal your guns and your Bible."
Hehehe.

I didn't get home until 10:30pm tonight :-/

How in the world is this year already 2/3 over? I demand a recount.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Giant's going upscale

I bought ramen noodles today - I ate out at lunch and just wanted something simple for dinner. Well, you can't buy individual packages of ramen noodles anymore. I had to buy a six-pack. Here's the kicker: it was $1.50! Now buying individual packages of ramen used to be 10-15 cents each. At the multi-pack price, it ends up being 25 cents each. PLUS there's more packaging, since they shrinkwrap the six packages together. So let's summarize: more expensive, less convenient, and bad for the environment. I'm disappointed, Giant, and your coupon for free cookies won't assuage my feelings.

My nerddom is complete

Came in the mail yesterday, hehehe:

Darn you, Glennon

Not only did you kill the season opener, but that cost me 8 points :-(

Regardless of the outcome of the last game (Washington @ Oregon) I'll come in second for week 1 of CPE. But if Oregon wins (and they're up 21-10 right now) I'll be in 2nd place by 1 point instead of 4.

Had a pretty decent day otherwise - volunteered, met Leslie for lunch at the tapas restaurant I posted a few days ago, went to work for a few hours, went to Old Navy (and got this dress, except in navy blue). My license plates came in the mail today too! Except that means *I* have to go out and put them on the car since M's out of town.

Gonna go read or something now. Church and chillin' tomorrow (and probably getting ice cream), and taking Monday off (and sleeping in, and going to some sort of cookout).

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Just when you thought you've seen it all

Barenaked Ladies came out with a children's album.

Sample lyric: "Raisins come from grapes / People come from apes / I come from Canada"

Ooooh man. This almost makes me wish I had kids so I could buy it. Ryan, do NOT miss out on this opportunity to introduce your child to the best Canadia has to offer!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Nerd goodness

1. How did pandas get it so easy? A Japanese zoo has the first video recording of a panda giving birth. The panda sits down, and the pandette just kind of goes "bloop" out onto the floor. In terms of comparative sizes, I think I've seen bigger poops. "Giant" panda my foot. Feisty little guy (gal?) though.

2. Astrobiology rap - your daily science dose of the day.

3. I think I made up the word "pandette."

4. Not nerd, but who in the world ever says "I want to get creative with salad tonight?" Damn you Sargento, with your contrived phone conversations and your crazy salad mix-ins.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Something that makes me mad

The vaccine "controversy" always seems to be in the news. People always have arguments for and against vaccination, but the one that always seems to crop up the most is the justification: "If your kid is vaccinated then how can my unvaccinated kid be a threat to yours?" Usually in caps, with misspelling and extraneous punctuation.

The answer, which seems so obvious to me but somehow entirely escapes the people that claim to have done tons of so-called "research," is mutation. Vaccines are developed against a strain or strains of microorganism. Microorganisms require a host to replicate (and in doing so, potentially mutate). If vaccination rates are 100%, then there is never a host in which a microorganism can replicate and mutate. If the vaccination rate drops to say, 90%, then the other 10% of the population becomes potential hosts for a microorganism that can then potentially mutate into a form that is no longer susceptible to the antibodies produced by the vaccine in the other 90%. And that's a recipe for an epidemic.

Vaccinate your kids, or don't. But at least stop pretending that the only life you're risking is your own child's.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Recent randoms

Meeting: Not as bad as I had feared, but no where near as good as I had hoped. I still have a lot of work to do :-/ Trying not to feel depressed about it, but so far it's only partly working.

Draft: Got Brady for our QB. Screwed up our backup QB twice, now have Delhomme. Got a good WR who is on the verge of needing shoulder surgery. Got some good RBs. We'll see what happens.

Two weekends ago: Super happy fun. Played doubles tennis, went to the M5/CC concert, went to Body Worlds and out to dinner. Matt summed it up pretty well here.

Last weekend: Took two naps. Had lunch with a couple from church. Finished Dance of Death and started Book of the Dead.

This weekend: Matt's out of town. I have to work. And I'm finally trying out that tapas restaurant in DC, either by myself or with Matt's aunt. Hokie football kicks off, but I'll have to DVR it.

Next weekend: Heading to NJ for my cousin's wedding. And working some more.

Music: I bought a couple new albums off of PayPlay since I have some birthday money kicking around. I had at least one song off of each already, mostly through their karma system (I've bought so much music I have like 85 karma points racked up). I ended up with "Red Light Fever" by Jackson Rohm, "Away From Here" by The Retrofits, and "On My Own Two Feet" by Granian. I also karma'ed a live track of "Contagious" and a new Jackson Rohm song, "The Old Me."

Words I hate: babymoon; staycation

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

One more

Apparently I have nothing to worry about.

Finally

I called Rite Aid as I was leaving work, and they said they couldn't find my photo, and that I should resend it and then call them. Ten minutes before I get home, Matt calls and says that Rite Aid called saying that my photo was ready for pickup. Whatever. At least I have it now:


Oh, and there's quite a bit of a lag on Blogger Play; I just watched for like three minutes after I uploaded that picture and I didn't see it come up.

I won't be online much this weekend, for two reasons: one, is that we're going to C&E's place and then to the Counting Crows/Maroon 5 concert after I get home from RFBD tomorrow and then we're going to Baltimore to see Body Worlds after church on Sunday; two, is that I left the power cord for my lappy at work :-/

I turn 27 in four days; I hopefully get my thesis go-ahead in five days?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

No Photo

I went to Rite Aid after work to pick up the photo print. They didn't have it. The guy behind the counter (who was very hard to understand) walked around holding my confirmation paper (that said 2-3 days; I had ordered on Monday night and got my "shipping" confirmation e-mail at 2:45am Tuesday morning) mumbling to himself and then pointing at a printer on the floor, telling me "it would be on that printer."

Five minutes later, he finally says "It's not here. Maybe somebody threw it out." I'm like, you're a photo center - why would anybody throw PHOTOS out. Then he starts asking me repeatedly about my memory card, although I had already explained twice that I didn't bring in a memory card, I ordered online (bringing the memory card wouldn't have done any good anyways, as their kiosk was out of order).

So now I'm trying to figure out from him what I should do - do I need to re-order my print? Why does it take three days to make an 8x10 print anyways? He says "You should call tomorrow, maybe it'll be here then."

Good grief.

Well, I'm not working on Sunday

Third time was NOT the charm.

So I saved a weekend afternoon working (actually more than an afternoon since I would have had to be here very, very late Friday as well) but if this ends up costing me my "does not need to meet again" check mark, I don't know...

Finished the frame while watching the Olympics last night and the night before. Picking up the photo print tonight, so I guess I'll have a picture up soon.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Another project

One of the things I've wanted to do for a while is frame this photo (from last year's trip to the beach):

I finally got around to getting it printed; I had previously been using Wal-mart photo center because I liked that you could upload photos online and then pick them up later, instead of having to drive there twice or wait around for an hour or use the kiosk which is way more expensive than regular photo printing. But when I stopped going to Wal-mart, I didn't have that convenience anymore. Until I found out that you can do the same thing at Rite Aid now. So I sent it in to be printed as an 8x10, and I went looking for a frame. I wanted something in a natural color, and with a flat front because I planned on gluing some of the seashells I collected from the beach on the front. I found a nice double mat (light green and cream) but the only 11x14 frame I could find was white. I picked up some acrylic paint to paint the frame to match the cream in the mat, and some glue. Turns out the mat and frame were both on sale, and I had a 40%-off coupon for one regular priced item (which ended up being the glue, ha). So I got everything I needed for the project, including the photo printing cost, for less than what the regular price of the frame was. Spiffy. I'll post a photo next week when it's done.

We have a crazy busy weekend planned. I'm (obviously) volunteering on Saturday and then we're going to C&E's place for (maybe) tennis and dinner before heading out to Nissan Pavilion. Matt got $6 lawn seat tickets to the Counting Crows/Maroon 5 show Saturday night, w00t! Sunday I'm probably going to be at work all day after church :-/ I'm really trying to finish something up before my meeting on Wednesday, and as usual the universe is NOT cooperating. Third time's the charm, right? ...right?? Sigh.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Puzzle success 2008

It is finished!

I finally got around to pulling out the card table (actually I *had* it out but had to put it away again because Matt McHugh stayed with us Friday night). There were about 50 pieces or so left from our work at the beach - I tried to finish it the last night we were there, but it was down to just me working on it at like 1:45am so I decided to call it a night. Still deciding on a mat and frame color - I'm thinking a wood frame and either a light green or reddish mat, to pick out some of the colors in the puzzle? We'll have to go to Michaels and see.

We went to the Germantown rec. area this afternoon after I got back from RFBD and played their incredibly difficult putt putt course (I love that it's only $4.50 per person!) It's a par 42, and we got a 65 and a 68 (Matt won). Then we walked one of the paved trail loops afterwards. Matt took a nap when we got home, and after I had put in a load of laundry I decided today was the day I was going to finish the puzzle!

We've already been talking about the puzzle options for next year - perhaps one of Monet's "Waterlilies," perhaps another Van Gogh; Matt suggested Salvadore Dali's "Persistance of Memory." All very good choices, in my opinion.

I've been watching MHD tonight. I'm pleased to report that Paul McCartney still has it; I'm disappointed to report that Pete Townshend does not.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

S'mores

I've been making s'mores on our stovetop - you can actually toast a marshmallow pretty well over a coil burner. Yum. I also think I want the Life is Good s'more t-shirt. I saw it at a store down in Nags Head, but I had already bought a shirt that day so I didn't get it. I found it online, so I might get it with upcoming birthday money. We'll see.

Matt McHugh is coming up tomorrow again. We were supposed to be going to birthday stuff with (my) Matt's fam on Saturday, but I knew it was too good to be true when they made plans to do birthday stuff two weeks in advance. Ha!

Apparently the FDA has a legal definition of "fruit cocktail"? If it doesn't contain peaches, pears, grapes, pineapple and cherries within certain percentages, it can't be called fruit cocktail. Thanks, Food Network!

I'm wondering if I should change my Facebook info to say Johns Hopkins '09?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Inching towards 1000

This is post #878. At the rate I blog (on average, ~ 1 post per 1.5 days) I should hit the big 1K around February 5, 2009. Let's see if I make it.

Other Countdowns!

27th Birthday = 13 days (We're going to BodyWorlds the weekend before after before!)
Thesis Committee Meeting = 14 days
Billy and Alicia's Wedding = 31 days
Graduation (?) = 298 days
OBX '09 = 353 days, and we're staying HERE. w00t!

Joy and Jeff came by tonight! We got pizza and played Blokus.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation

made a sandcastle * boogie boarded * walked on the beach * looked for seashells * found a piece of coral * found the padding from someone's bikini top * laughed at sand pipers * fed seagulls * lost the camera * found the camera * lost yahtzee about five times * won a game of settlers of catan * played many games of munchkin * played many games of five crowns * took a nap * played beach volleyball in the dark * won one game of blokus * finished 95% of a 1000-piece puzzle * played dr. mario * ate a corn dog at captain frank's * picked crabs * grilled steaks * got carolina barbeque at sooey's * listened to matt rock out on karaoke * got about two dozen mosquito bites * got a massage and a pedicure * tossed a football * tossed a frisbee * stargazed * saw a satellite * saw a meteorite * played putt putt * ran into matt's aunt and uncle outside of putt putt * got DQ ice cream * got frozen custard * shopped * saw a woman drinking a forty in a grocery store * created a drink * made fun of randi's attempt at creating a drink * drank margaritas and pina coladas * got a cactus in my hand * made s'mores * bought a new purse * bought t-shirts for me and matt * played rock band * laughed at people * glared at bad parents * got fried fish at slammin' sammys * saw wall-e * ate lunch on the beach * ate dinner on the deck * got brownie cheesecake at the froggy dog * attempted to take pictures of lightning * stayed up really late * slept in late * watched v for vendetta * played hilarious games of apples to apples and loaded questions * watched all the episodes of dr. horrible's sing-along blog and planet unicorn * got a second-hand campfire

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dumb and dumber (and dumberer)

Do you feel safer?

Later rescinded, but Yankee stadium attempted to ban people from bringing in bottles of sunblock. In the name of security. Oh, but you could buy a 1oz bottle of SPF 15 for $5. So those very fair people that start to burn after 4-5 minutes, would have to go through a bottle an hour - upwards of $20 for an average game. As if the Yankees didn't suck enough already.

TSA administrator Kip Hawley, talking about a new training effort starting this September:
TSA has screened 3.5 billion passengers since the start-up of the agency, Hawley said, adding, "That's more than the population of the world. That means that our officers, when they're not focused on the Standard Operating Procedure and they're not going through our checklist, that they're going through information in their own subconscious. This is incredibly valuable information that allows them to pick up on cues if we train them on it and encourage them to use it." The Checkpoint Evolution training means getting away from the mentality of, "Did I complete the checklist? If I did, I'm done with my job," Hawley said. "We have to do our job of not letting prohibited items through, but my job is not finished until I've stopped an attack."

I heard a bit of a speech from John McCain on the radio last night, saying that all the credit for the recent drop in oil prices goes to President Bush because he lifted the executive order that banned offshore drilling, and oil prices dropped more than $10 a barrel in response.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Maybe our stars are unanimously tired

I'm tired.

Thesis committee meeting is scheduled for August 20th. Hopefully my last. Should have all of the data from the irradiation part of my thesis project Thursday. I've submitted one paper draft (sans figure) to my adviser and working on revising a second. Probably have two more in the pipeline. The one nice thing about being the only person in the lab working on this topic is that I'm guaranteed first author on every paper.

Had to take the car back in today, as the battery light had started coming on again and was on solid since Tuesday afternoon. Nearly 6 hours and over a week's pay later, it *was* the alternator. Nice.

VBS is in like two days; I never feel ready. It always seems to work out though.

Matt told me to give FF3 another chance since it's been updated to a new version. So far it's been okay but we'll see. At least all my extensions work, although I do miss the rounded address bar.

We've had to make some changes to our lab meeting schedule recently, and man did I get the short end of the stick on that. Not only am I presenting at lab meeting twice within 8 weeks (we usually only go once every 3 months or so; I originally wasn't due until mid-September) I'm presenting the day before my thesis committee meeting (which doesn't give me much time to implement suggestions, which was the whole point of going early) AND it's my birthday. Sigh.

What in the world makes someone undergo the thought process that decides this sequence of events is not only a viable option but also the best option: a) stop dead in the left center lane of I-95 in front of two tractor trailers, b) make a 90-degree turn across two other lanes of highway traffic, c) drive across 15 feet of grass because you're already past the point where the exit you're trying to take has physically separated from the highway. Seriously, I think you have to have some kind of mental illness there.

Did I mention that I love the new dishwasher? I love the new dishwasher. It cleans so well, and you don't have to pre-rinse anything. And it's sooo quiet!

I didn't order the shoes mentioned in my last post. But I did order a cute ASPCA t-shirt.

I appreciate the sentiment of this Indexed card:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

1-2-3

1. I switched my homepage to iGoogle. I still don't have the Evite module, but I have everything else I want (calendar, stocks, blog feeds, etc) and some cool new stuff like a to-do list and Blogger Play! The interface is a lot easier to use than My Yahoo too. I also like the increased functionality of the calendar - it's tons easier to put stuff into the calendar and whatnot.

2. I almost bought these shoes the other day, when they were $35.95. Now they're $29.97. I still haven't bought them; I don't know why. They're sooo cute though.

3. Dishwasher comes tomorrow!

Cha-ching

Should women keep a secret money stash?

I'd say no, but will add the caveat that what works for me may not work for everyone. There does seem to be some inherent aspect of distrust though - I'm talking about the secret part of it, not the separate money part. We have all of our money merged and it works just fine for us, but having separate or separate/joint accounts may be what some other couple needs. I still think full disclosure is necessary though.

Having said all that, I don't think Matt even knows what the balances of any of our accounts are or the last time he wrote a check :-) So right off the bat we're not the type of couple the article is talking about.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The last line of defence

Not a typo.

I came across this video for "The EMD Safety Bracelet." It's obviously several years old, as it references in the video that all airplane cockpit doors will be secured by 2003.

EMD stands for "electro-muscular disruption." It's basically a taser. And some halfwit wants us all to put these on before boarding a plane! Let's take a closer look at some of the video's claims.

At that time, they can also be fitted with a special electronic ID bracelet that they will wear until they disembark the flight at their destination.

Note that we have established that wearing this bracelet is (supposedly) voluntary. This in and of itself will basically render the entire proposal useless, because if you did have some sinister motives, you could simply decline to wear the bracelet. They also want to code passenger information onto this bracelet, making it a prime target for identity thieves.

Checked luggage could be coded to the bracelet to ensure no tampering or diversions.

How exactly? Are you also going to RFID tag luggage so it can only be opened in proximity to the bracelet-wearer? What if you lose your bracelet?

By further equipping each bracelet with EMD technology, the bracelets will allow crew members, using radio frequency signals, to quickly and effectively subdue hijackers.

Assuming that the hijacker is even wearing his bracelet, how exactly do you propose arming the bracelet? Airplanes are not big spaces. Are they going to arm ALL the bracelets on the plane, and if you happen to be near the hijacker when they tase him, tough noogies for you when your bracelet goes off too? Are they somehow going to know the specific RFID code for that particular bracelet? How do they know he didn't switch bracelets with his buddy in the back row, or even just take it off on the plane?

EMD technology is designed to incapicate a terrorist from a safe distance, without causing permanent injury, which means these criminals will survive and go to trial.

While the manufacturer of the Taser gun says that Tasers have never caused a death (and guns don't kill people, bullets do!) 70 people from 2003-2004 died after being tasered. I hardly think that there is any kind of guarantee that people will survive to be brought to trial.

Wearing an EMD bracelet for a few hours during a flight is a small inconvenience to ensure their safe arrival...many, if not most, passengers would happily opt for the extra security of the EMD safety bracelet.

And we come back to the first point, that if wearing these bracelets is on a voluntary basis, then it provides no additional security and accomplishes nothing except potentially putting yourself at risk for identity theft and electric shock.

Well done.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Plz stop breaking my internet, kthxbai

Seriously.

I switched back to Firefox 2 because Firefox 3 kept crashing itself and/or my computer. Yeah yeah, add-ons, blah blah blah. All I know is that Firefox hasn't crashed and I haven't had to restart my computer since I downgraded, AND I have all my preferred add-ons and my iFox theme AND stuff like the "favorite this" button on ICHC works again.

So now what? I use My Yahoo as my home page. They've been nagging me for months to switch to the "New My Yahoo" (and they've conveniently already moved my page over). But one of my modules keeps track of my current Evite invitations and lets me see when others have RSVP'd. There is no Evite module in the "New My Yahoo." Also, the New My Yahoo doesn't have the RSS feeds for my favorite PF blogs. So, I just kept my old My Yahoo page. Now there's a banner at the top of my home page saying "This version of My Yahoo will shut down in 7 days. Don't worry, we've already moved your page over to the New My Yahoo." They even have the audacity to tell me that my page is "changing (in a good way!)" Jerks.

I don't have enough fingers

As of today, I am officially in 22nd grade.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

T-minus 19 days

Until vacation!

We had a nice 4th. Went over to Matt's fam for ribs and other barbecue/food. I brought baked beans and blueberry angel food cupcakes (topped with whipped cream and strawberries). Let me tell you, I was totally unprepared for how many cupcakes one box of angel food cake mix made (almost 3 dozen!) After dinner we went over to Carly's parents' to see the fireworks (just a little ways of a walk up the W&OD trail from their house) and then to C&E's for a while. It was the first real test of the Garmin Nuvi, and I can say it passed with flying colors.

Oh, and we bought the dishwasher! Happy Birthday, America! It'll be here on Friday. I'm really looking forward to it. Anything would be better than our current disaster.

I got an e-mail about a week or so ago about Let's Dish stores in Montgomery County closing :-( The GM for the mid-Atlantic region contacted me personally to express how disappointed he was that customers like me would be inconvenienced. I told him that I would be going to the store in Columbia for at least the next few months, and he said he'd let the store manager there know to take care of me. That was super awesome.

The ASPCA commercial always makes me cry. I want to hug all the kitties! Especially the orange one at the end that tries to paw the camera. And the white lab that sticks his nose under the bottom of his cage. We (meaning I) signed up for a monthly donation at their website. How people can do things like that to animals absolutely boggles my mind.

I actually got 1/4th of my data from my mad rush to the finish line on the irradiation project! Due to get the second fourth tomorrow. I'm taking Tuesday off - have some writing projects that need to be worked on, plus I was there until 7-8pm just about every day last week (and I was in last Sunday too).

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

You've received a Hallmark E-card!

A couple years ago, I would have thought nothing of this. But I have learned to be suspicious of everything on the internet. Especially since it's not even my birthday or anything.

It looked innocuous enough:

My e-mail address was correct, no spelling or grammar errors (usually a dead give-away) and I right-clicked some of the links at the top and bottom and copy/pasted them into notepad - they all directed to hallmark.com.

Oh, these are smart people. But I am smarter. Copying the link location of the "here" (to retrieve my card) and pasting into notepad revealed the true intentions: domain freewebtown.com, file name postcard.exe.

You were a worthy opponent, Postcard Virus Cleverly Disguised As A Hallmark E-Card. But no cookie for you today.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Huzzah!

There is finally an update to Morning Coffee for Firefox 3!!

Now if I could just get my iFox theme back, I'd be 95% happy.

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Completely unrelated, but I just saw this and found it interesting. One of the arguments against a genetic component of homosexuality is "Since gay men cannot (naturally) breed, why hasn't the gene become extinct?" There's a study that was just published in PLos ONE that suggests a theory that a gene for homosexuality in men may be "sexually antagonistic" - that is, provide a reproductive benefit to only one sex, and a reproductive detriment to the other. They found that maternal female relatives of gay men had higher reproduction rates than paternal female relatives, and the inverse was true for straight men. You may not be able to get to the PLoS article, since I'm accessing this from a Hopkins-networked computer and may be reading it through our subscription service. There's a summary of the article on Slate, and if you'd like to look at the original article I'd be happy to download it and send you a copy.

New bed look

The headline makes sense, I promise :-)

The cats had gotten a little claw-happy on our sheets. So I bought new ones at Target, but then they didn't match the rest of our bedding (everyone in the world has a queen sized bed, so my choices were somewhat limited). All the bedding sets at Target were either ugly, or over $100 and ugly.

I ended up getting a duvet set and then getting a bedskirt and pillow shams separately at BB&B - I wanted the white in the shams and skirt because I wanted to lighten up the navy blue a bit. I think it looks pretty good!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Unbelievable (OH!)

The Pew Trust released results of a survey on America's religious landscape. I am intensely suspect of any conclusions they present, based on this one reported statistic: 21 percent of self-identified atheists said they believe in God or a universal spirit, with 8 percent "absolutely certain" of it.

If you can't even get that one right by definition (A-Theist) then how can I believe anything else presented?

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I got the "sad ipod" icon on my ipod while we were in Birmingham. I checked Apple support online when we got home, which was completely worthless. Circular "non-help" like the fact that when I plugged my ipod into my computer, it didn't show up in windows or in itunes. One of Apple's suggestions? "Your ipod may need to be reset." Which you can't do if it doesn't show up in itunes!! The bottom of their "help" page said that my ipod needed to be serviced by an Apple technician, which according to the internet costs between $100-200. So I kept digging.

I found a message board thread about someone who had the same problem and had said that hitting your ipod against a hard surface, charger port side down, solved the problem for him and many other people. I was skeptical, but figured "What have I got to lose?" So I turned it off, whacked it on the table and turned it back on. AND IT BOOTED BACK UP!

Apparently the principle is that the hard drive cable sometimes works itself loose if it gets jostled around a lot, and that hitting it against something (in that specific direction) jolts the cable back into place. I can't say for certain if it's true, and I take no responsibility if you break your ipod. But it worked for me. YMMV.

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I saw the most amazing rainbow ever on the way home. Two full arcs! I was so disappointed that I didn't have our camera with me, but I stopped and took a picture with my cell phone anyways (I could only get about 1/3 of the arc in the frame). It doesn't do it one bit of justice, but maybe you'll get just a little idea of what I got to see.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

1827 days later...

M and I have been married for five whole years! And didn't kill each other! :-D

It's been a fantastic time. Plenty of ups and downs, plenty of triumphs and a few heartbreaks - such is the road of life, and I couldn't have picked a better co-captain for my trip through the past half-decade (it sounds soooo long when you say it that way). We've accomplished so much together in such a short time.

We finally got to open our time capsule wedding gift when we got home from Nicole and Mike's wedding (slightly after midnight). As per our instructions, it sat in a "visible location" for the past year:

We cracked the box open at around 12:10am:

It was a good thing we didn't try to open it before the allowed time!

The contents:

Included, among other things, are our wedding invitation and program, a booklet and sand/seashells from the place we stayed at in the Keys, an invite from one of my showers, a card from the restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner, glasses and t-shirts from Kabuki's in Blacksburg the first night we met, photos, and the CD that has our first dance song on it.

We went to Mortons for dinner, which was yummy as always. Matt ordered me a Garmin Nuvi 350, which should be here in a few days - he had brought up the subject on the way down to Birmingham, but I told him I wasn't sure. That was before we got lost approximately six times because there was a severe sign shortage in Birmingham. I'm rather looking forward to the GPS now. I got Matt the new Coldplay CD, V For Vendetta two ways (novel and DVD) and a squishy neck pillow of his own because he kept stealing mine on the train last weekend.

Happy Anniversary, luv!

Numero Cuatro

Matt wanted to make sure everyone knows where we are in the count.


Nicole and Mike's wedding was gorgeous, even though it was fairly hot outside (even at 6pm!) It was our second outdoor wedding (ever), and everything was perfect. Although I later learned that the cloud I was so appreciative of that just so happened to come by five minutes before the ceremony started almost made Nicole cry because she was so worried that it was going to rain.

We sat with Rob and Jill Granger at the reception, ate food and cake, and had a nice time. We're off from the wedding circuit for almost 10 weeks before rounding out the season.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Over the hump

Both in terms of this week, and weddings. Number 4 is this Saturday outside of Richmond, and then we're off the hook until the end of the summer (so far...)

Matt and Shelly's wedding(s) were beautiful, and the travel was relatively stress-free. Other than the fact that they must have mixed up the coach car with the refrigerator car, because it was *freezing* on the trip down. I mean, Matt was cold. And Matt is NEVER cold. Matt roundhouse-kicks cold in the face.

Mandatory C&M pic #3:


(doesn't M look good? I picked that shirt and tie out!)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Curing cancer is not a crime!

Part of my research involves use of an irradiator. Last year, my advisor had to sign a statement that I was "significantly trustworthy and reliable" and did not have any nefarious purposes in wanting to obtain access to the irradiator. Apparently that's not enough anymore. Now, anyone who wants unescorted access to the irradiators has to undergo a FBI background check and fingerprinting by July 15th.

I told them no. I don't see any reason why the FBI should have my fingerprints on file for the rest of my life so I can kill some cancer cells for the next 4 months. I also don't see how my fingerprints attest to my trustworthiness any more than a background check alone would. Furthermore, I think it's ridiculous that with all the potential threats that we face, they're worried about graduate students taking apart a machine the size of my laundry room to steal a chunk of cesium.

So, I have access to the irradiator until July 15th. After that, my ID badge stops working in the door and I have to have a "chaperone" to get in. I'm attempting to have that portion of the project done before then though - feasible, but we'll see what happens.

I'm sure I probably just got myself on some "uncooperative" list, but whatever. I was already a dirty libertarian :-)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

$220 later...

My battery light started coming on while I was driving Friday afternoon. It would just blink on for a minute or so, and then go away - maybe 3-5 times during my commute home. But on Monday, it was on for nearly half the drive to work. Same thing on the way home, though I figured out that turning everything off in the car (radio, fan/AC, headlights) and driving below 50mph kept it to a minimum (I didn't take the interstates home).

So I took my car in this morning, around 9:30. There is a $92 charge just for them to tell me what's wrong with the car. I thought it was going to be the alternator, since there didn't seem to be any problem starting the car. Nearly two hours later, they told me it was the battery. Apparently one of the battery cells died, which left enough voltage to continue starting the car but caused the battery to short out when it tried to recharge off of the alternator. This actually made me happy, since having a new battery put in is about 1/4 of the cost of having a new alternator put in.

And then it took them TWO AND A HALF HOURS to put the battery in. Did I mention it was *freezing* in the customer waiting area? I didn't get out of there until almost 2pm.

I am thankful, however, that this is barely a blip on our budget radar. We put aside money for car-related stuff every month that will cover most of the charge, and have savings for the rest. I know in this economy, some people aren't so lucky.

Congrats to Ashley and Jeremy on their new daughter Aubrey!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bananas "prove" God?

That's just...well, bananas.



For reals though, stuff like this really gets my goat. There is so much beauty and wonder and mystery in our natural world. We shouldn't be reduced to arguing that God must exist because a banana fits in my hand and is easy to eat. Besides, a banana as we know it has been cultivated for its desired characteristics. Wild bananas don't exactly look like good eats (TM) to me.

Monday, June 09, 2008

More goals!

I like goals. It keeps me focused on the big picture while still letting me get pumped up for the details. So we've got a couple laid out for the rest of the year into 2009...and by "we" I mean I say to M "We should do this" and he says "Okay, whatever." I guess if you look at our household from a company standpoint, he's the CEO and I'm the CFO :-)

So for startsies, we're increasing M's 401k contribution to 8%. We're both getting C.O.L. raises in in July, so the money's not even going to see our budget. That plus our regular savings and my IRA will put us at a healthy 18% savings rate. M's company also contributes to his 401k, but I don't count that in our savings % because we don't have any control over it and it could technically change at any time.

We're also opening an IRA for M in August. I decided to start his acct with Vanguard's STAR fund, which is a very conservative balanced fund (60-40 stocks and bonds) but only has a $1000 investment minimum. We'll eventually have most of his contributions going towards Vanguard's Target Retirement 2045 fund once we have enough to meet the fund minimum.

To round out the summer, I am upgrading our dishwasher and having a thesis committee meeting - hopefully my last. And of course vacation, but that's more a respite from the goals than a goal itself :-)

Moving into the fall - I'm expecting to have a "real" job in November, while our C.O.L. will remain relatively unchanged. With the price of gas and not having to drive to Baltimore anymore, it will likely even drop a little. I may or may not have a retirement account with this job (at the moment the opportunity I'm looking at is likely no), but if I do, it'll be funded. The new dollars in our budget will be funneled into our ING account for a few months. We'll also be paying off the 0% financing from the electronics purchases we made in the spring (not technically due until March but I want to free the monthly allotment up) as well as replacing our stove (which will complete our kitchen appliance upgrade and also free *those* dollars up).

At this point in the game we will be saving *over 30%* of our income (again, still not counting any matching funds going into 401k accounts). Now comes the fun part.

New year, new account. Since we're looking to buy a bigger place in around 2-2 1/2 years, I'd like to not just rely on the equity in our condo for our down payment. So we'll be opening up a taxable investment account in January and putting most of our former savings account contribution (60-80%) into it - I think there comes a point where excess liquidity becomes a hindrance rather than a help. Since we'll need the money in a relatively short amount of time, it'll be in conservative investments. I'm thinking half in Vanguard's Total Bond Market Index fund and half in their Prime Money Market fund; possibly a very small percentage in a Total Stock Market Index fund. After our next house is purchased, these dollars will be split towards increased 401k contributions and saving for our next car(s). In the meantime, we'll continue to fund the Roth IRAs yearly. I haven't figured in any pay raises after 2008, so we'll figure out what to do with that money when we come to it.

So there you have it. We are, of course, relying on a couple assumptions (for instance, that I can actually make it out of grad school unscathed and find a job that doesn't involve the prefix Mc; that nothing disastrous happens over the next two years - why is there no 'E' in disastrous??) I also recognize that saving 30% of our income is not likely something we can keep up in the long term (or maybe it is, who knows?) But for the most part I think we're on a really good track and I hope we can stay that way.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

2 outta 3 in just under 5 months!

I had three goals in my new year's post.

1. Pay off my car. Made the last payment in March! It feels so great not having any car loans.

2. Open an IRA. Done! I opened my Roth IRA at Vanguard Friday night. I feel like such a grown-up. I decided to go with their Mid-Cap Growth fund to start, which turned out to be a really good thing! They have this neat analysis tool that lets you include outside accounts, so I put in all the info for Matt's 401k and it turned out that his funds were ALL large-cap and small-cap companies. So this will provide some much-needed balance. And come July (when we're upping M's 401k contribution %) we'll be right on target for savings.

Still working on #3 (graduate). Megan gave her thesis talk Friday afternoon, so I guess that makes me "officially" next. Pressure's on.

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We do not have any free weekends in June. We're going hiking with C&E this coming Saturday and having dinner with Norm and Laura on Sunday. The weekend after that is Skinner's wedding in B'ham (I think we're going to have to rent a car, bah). The Saturday after that is Nicole's wedding in Richmond, and then our 5 year anniversary/white-water rafting trip that Sunday. The weekend after that Matt and Sarah are coming up. Whew!

I got 36.75 mpg on my last tank of gas :-)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Projects

I have a lot of stuff for this summer.

After I finish another little cross stitch project on my plate, I'm trying something way bigger - Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" (one of my favorite paintings) as a cross stitch. It's about 31,000 stitches, and the first time I've tried to do a full canvas stitching. It'll probably take me a good while - probably at least 50 hours.

I also decided to try a little sewing project. After I saw this skirt pattern done on A Dress A Day, I thought I'd give it a shot. I've never done much sewing outside of flat objects and hemming/mending, so it should be an interesting challenge. I plan on making the easiest one (A-line, no pleats) for starters, in something Sweet Briar-y. Erin at A.D.A.D. did hers in about 2 hours, but she is a beast. I'm going to guess at least 6 for me plus shopping time.

I have to finish writing/revising a review article that we've been putting together, and I should have another little article to write up before the end of the summer...maybe two depending on how things go.

I have a bunch of books on my reading list as well. I bought Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris over a month ago and haven't had a chance to start it yet (and he's got another one, When You Are Engulfed In Flames, coming out next week!). There's still two books in the Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child series that I haven't read yet: Dance of Death and Book of the Dead. They also have a new book out that looks interesting, The Wheel of Darkness. Someone from church gave me a copy of J. Craig Venter's autobiography, A Life Decoded. And Stephen King has a new novel out this year, Duma Key. All together, that's almost 3000 pages of reading; roughly 35-45 hours at my pace. Yeah, I read super fast.

I can't wait for vacation so I can put a dent in some of this!