Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Last post of '09

Tomorrow I'm going to be busy sleeping in, wrapping stuff, maybe going for a run, running an errand or two...and then we're off to VA for an early dinner with M's extended fam and then going to see the lights on the mall. And the VT bowl game!

But first, two last links:

"You really have no place in this conversation" - hi-larious hijacked facebook thread.

Celebrities with and without makeup - most of them are still pretty. One quibble, is that some of the "without makeup" pictures are really just less makeup. But still. Also, I love Paris Hilton's haircut (at 8:07). Matt's so mean to me.

Happy New Year!

Year in Review 2009 edition

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before? swam 400 meters freestyle without stopping, ran 8 miles (in 1:32:03), made my own yogurt

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I did all three last year - opened Matt's IRA, exercised more (a LOT more), and read through the entire Bible. This year I want to complete a mini triathlon in under two hours, save $25,000 for our next house, floss more often, and do a better job on keeping up with the housework.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Emily (Owen) and Pam (Andrew)

4. Did anyone close to you die? My dad, and my childhood dog

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

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? a new computer, a flat-top stove, and a bike

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? March 12th - first day of my first REAL job!

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

9. What was your biggest failure? Gaining back the same 10 pounds I lost in the first part of the year

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? shin splints from running, couple random muscle spasms - the usual

11. What was the best thing you bought? passes to the rec center gym and the base pool

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Mom

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? the V.A.

14. Where did most of your money go? we saved quite a bit of money this year in CDs, retirement accounts, regular savings, and towards our next house

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? vacation, new job, having my nomination chosen as a winner by the FLC, getting a paper accepted for publication, opening an account to save for our next house

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? Her Diamonds by Rob Thomas, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes by CSNY, and anything off of the Glee soundtracks

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? happier
ii. thinner or fatter? fatter (well, at least heavier)
iii. richer or poorer? richer

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

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? wasting time doing nothing on the computer

20. How will you be spending Christmas? went to South Carolina this year

21. How will you be spending New Year's Eve? same old same old with M's extended family in VA, hopefully drama- and flu-free this year.

22. Did you fall in love in 2009? see previous responses

23. How many one-night stands? see previous responses

24. What was your favorite TV program? CSI, Glee, Chuck

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? Hour Eyes

26. What was the best book you read? I didn't read enough this year, but Duma Key was the best

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Melodime

28. What did you want and get? a shorter commute and business cards

30. What was your favorite film of this year? I can't remember actually going to the movies this year (though I know I did). But I saw Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M For Murder for the first time (twice) and thought it was awesome.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 28 - I got a free yoga class and ice cream cake at the office, and then we went to O'Donnells for dinner. Had a few people over the following weekend for more ice cream cake and games.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? a higher metabolism

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? considerably more business professional than ever before

34. What kept you sane? success on a regular basis

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Chris Colfer's a cutie...too bad he's almost 10 years younger than me.

36. What political issue stirred you the most? bank/auto/mortgage bailouts

37. Who did you miss? Eric and Emily

38. Who were the best new people you met? Donna, Kendra, Travis, Stacy

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009: You don't have to die on the battlefield to be a casualty of war.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: "All that I'm after is a life full of laughter, as long as I'm laughing with you. I'm thinking that all that still matters is love ever after, after the life we've been through, 'cause I know there's no life after you." - Daughtry, Life After You

(YIR 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Orders (out of chaos?)

<3 Christmas money!

Old Navy, natch :-) Pair of khakis, a sweater, a couple of tops and camis, cute floral scarf, undies, two work dresses to go with my suit jackets, and a green cotton dress.

I couldn't bring myself to drop 4 Bens on the 10-piece Calphalon cookware i just got 10" and 12" pans with lids (which is what I really needed anyways).

I also ordered a shirt from I Can Has Cheezburger - it's Dr. Tinycat!

And finally, I'm trying to decide on a bike...but I'm heavily leaning toward this one...price is right (including free shipping), it's a hybrid, decent ratings, and it's not ugly.


Other stuff:

- I finally watched 500 Days of Summer...I've wanted to see it since, well, summer. It was cute.

- I went to the pool today, and swam 400m straight! Plus an extra 400m after that, in 100m sets. I felt great. Then I wondered if fat makes people more buoyant and thus better swimmers. Then I didn't feel as great...

- One more workday in 2009!

- Interviewing for a potential permanent job on the 8th.

- Shopping tomorrow, running Thursday, yoga Saturday morning. We have parties on the 31st, 2nd and 3rd. Then it's back to the regular schedule.

- JibJab's year in review: Never a Year Like '09. Stay tuned for my annual YIR post coming sometime this week!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Brussel sprouts have feelings too

Suck it vegans - plants are smarter than you think.

Science is cool :-)


The manager of Hour Eyes called and left a message for me. When I called him back Tuesday morning, it turns out...get this...that they had scheduled me for an appointment before the store even opened. Let me say that again. I was scheduled for a 9am appointment and the store doesn't open until 10am. A) How does your scheduling system even allow you to do that? B) How did no one notice for 10 days that there was a 9am appointment on the books? Even when I had called to reschedule from Saturday to Monday and they gave me the same 9am slot?

I did get my final prescription. The manager, incredibly, offered to order the supply of contact lenses for me. Like I'm going to sit around waiting for possibly another 31 days and possibly get expired product and make four more trips to their store to get that order.

Monday, December 21, 2009


My aunt sent me a Crate and Barrel gift card...which only covers 6% of this.

But I need new cookware. And man...Calphalon. And free shipping!

I'm so torn...

Also, "Dial M for Murder" is an extremely clever movie!

Saga continues

I got up at 7am to put my contact lenses in for my 9am follow-up appointment, so that Hour Eyes could check the lenses and give me my final prescription. I left at 8:45am to drive over (carefully). Our parking lot was a little icy, but the main roads were mostly fine.

When I got to the store, there was a sign on the door saying that due to the weather, the store was closed. Um, did anyone call me to cancel my appointment so I didn't have to get up at freaking 7am on a day that I didn't even have to work?? Of course not. (p.s. - Panera Bread next door was open, so it wasn't like the roads were treacherously impassable).

This has been the last straw. I called the store and left a message, saying the lenses are fine and to please mail my prescription because I never want to set foot in the store again. I tried to call ECCA corporate customer service, but couldn't get past their bevy of recorded messages - so I sent them an e-mail detailing the 40 days of problems I have had with their store. I doubt they'll respond. And I filed a complaint with the DC Better Business Bureau. (And I sent an e-mail to The Consumerist).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

More snow

We got like two feet of snow yesterday. Spent a couple hours digging the cars out today. We've watched like 2 1/2 seasons of 30 Rock on NetFlix streaming over the past three days. We also watched a bunch of movies, and played some games too.

Checked off the list: All immediate shopping. (We shop for M's extended family after Christmas, since we don't get together with them until New Years). All immediate wrapping, for things that M is taking to SC and my sister is taking back to VA. Two Christmas parties attended; two rescheduled for January. Church dinner and concert was great! Cards are written, stamped, and ready to be mailed tomorrow morning. Cookies are done and packed up. Peppermint bark gifts are handed out. Packages are mailed (despite having to wait in line behind a woman who took up five minutes arguing about extra postage, that amounted to 20 cents, that needed to be put on two of her Christmas cards because they got sent back to her). We didn't get to go to mom's, but we took care of the gifts at least.

I still need to put cards up on the wall, and pack - since Matt isn't driving down to SC until tomorrow. I rescheduled my eye doctor appointment for tomorrow morning, so I have to get up and go to that. But I have the rest of the day off because Ft. Detrick is closed!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rudolphina had a good makeup artist

DEAR ABBY: With the holidays here, songs about Santa and his reindeer are filling the air. I'm writing to talk about reindeer antlers. Reindeer are unique because they are the only members of the deer family in which both genders have antlers, which are made of bone and grown annually.

In the summer and fall, you cannot identify a reindeer as a "he" or a "she" without further investigation. In late December, however, only the females still have their antlers.

During the summer months, the males use their antlers to attract females and defend their harem (anywhere from five to 15 females) from other males. When they are no longer "looking for love," the males lose their antlers. The females, on the other hand, keep theirs through the winter and into the spring, and use them to compete for food and to protect their young.

The only reindeer with antlers at Christmastime are the GIRLS, Abby. So Rudolph would have been appropriately named "Rudolphia," and the other reindeer would have been laughing and calling HER names until the glow from HER nose guided Santa's sleigh that foggy Christmas eve. -- JOYCE CAMPBELL, PH.D.

DEAR DR. CAMPBELL: Fascinating. This clearly explains why Santa doesn't get lost at Christmas. Females are never reluctant to ask for directions ... ho, ho, ho.

(Reprinted from today's Dear Abby)

(I hear it's snowing?)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Running down the list

Got gifts for mom, Daniel and Alyssa. Got gifts for M's mom, dad, and grandmother. Got gifts for M.

Made 5 batches of cookies. Made three pans of peppermint bark (yum...)

Bought Christmas cards. M wrote the Christmas letter.

Been to two Christmas parties (no prizes this year at M's office party; got a bunch of games and DVDs from the gift exchanges at C&E's last Saturday).


Still need to: Get gifts for M's sisters. Wrap everything. Go to three more Christmas parties (tomorrow and Friday for work, Sunday for church). Go to the church dinner/concert (Friday). Write and mail cards. Bake the last batch of cookies and divvy them all up. Package up the peppermint bark. Mail packages to aunts/uncles and my grandmas. Bring gifts down to mom's and take our gifts back up here. Hang the Christmas cards on the wall. Pack (by Saturday night, since M's taking most of my luggage with him on Sunday afternoon).

Oh, and breathe. And maybe sleep a little?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I hate you, Hour Eyes

November 11th: eye exam at Hour Eyes. My prescription has changed, so they order a trial pair of contact lenses for me to try out before they write my final prescription.

December 1st: after the flurry of thanksgiving et al, I think to myself, Hey, I never got my contact lenses. I call Hour Eyes, and the person that I speak to says someone will check on it and call me back tomorrow.

December 3rd: no one has called me. I call again. The same person (I think) says that the technician will call me back tomorrow.

December 4th: no one calls. I drive over to Hour Eyes after work. I have now been waiting for the trial lenses for 23 days and my current (last) pair should have been tossed four days ago. The woman at the desk said there was a problem with the order and that only one lens came in the shipment; they've reordered the other lens on overnight delivery but since it's already Friday evening it won't get in until Monday. I say, "Fine, I'll see you on Monday" and she says "We'll call you..." Yeah, right.

December 7th: Before deciding to leave work half an hour early to drive over there, I call and ask if the lenses were there. She says that it didn't come in, there's some sort of backup at their distribution center and there's nothing she can do about it and that they'll call (yeah, right) when it comes in.

December 10th: day 30. No calls. I drive over after work, fully intending to tell them to cancel my trial lens shipment and just give me the prescription so I can take it somewhere else. I get there and after they rummage through a bunch of stuff they give me the trial lenses. The guy at the desk also says, "You were supposed to come back in for a follow up appointment..." and I want to reach across the desk and strangle him while explaining that I never got the lenses that I am supposed to wear to my follow up appointment. The guy puts me down for the follow up appointment a week from Saturday and says "Sorry for the confusion."

December 10th, 8:01pm: I get home, and while looking at the lenses think to myself, Why did they put the "right eye" sticker on the normal lens? I've always worn a toric lens in my right eye, not my left eye...and I'm pretty sure that no one's switched my eyeballs recently. I peel off the "right eye" sticker and notice the expiration date on the contact lens package - September 2009. Jigga-what??

So let's recap - I waited 30 days for trial contact lenses that I now cannot wear because one is expired and I'm 99% certain they've mislabeled anyways, and now I have to take time off of work to go over there when they open at 10am tomorrow and tell the manager that if they don't fix this IMMEDIATELY then I am going to initiate a chargeback on my credit card transaction because I paid for trial lenses and a final prescription a month ago and I have received neither.

Congratulations, Hour Eyes - you've joined the short list of companies (Wal-mart, Pep Boys, United...) that I will NEVER do business with again.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

December stuffs

Several people in my office have been out sick lately - at least two are almost positively H1N1 flu. I hope I can get the vaccine before it makes it to my end of the hallway!

Bought all the stuff for the christmas cookies - should get cracking on that on Sunday.

We just got our Netflix streaming disk for the PS3 today. We're currently watching episodes of 30 Rock. Picture quality is pretty good, though it has had to rebuffer a couple times.

Have a meeting all day tomorrow, and then our christmas party season starts tomorrow night! That means I need to do some shopping on Saturday morning...need to wrap the gift for Carly and Eric's shower, and get stuff for the gift exchange.

Unlike what the badging office told me, I did have to redo my background check even though I had just done it all in March. For some reason the questioning was much more intrusive, and I don't see why I would need to release my credit report and mental health records and such for my position (I don't have a security clearance). Joseph and I have a $5 bet on whether or not I'll have to do all of the forms a third time if I get a permanent government position.

I finally ordered replacement shades for our bedrooms! There's no slats, so hopefully there's nothing for the cats to ruin this time. Half price on and free shipping? Yes please! Trying to decide now if I feel up to the challenge of putting in the snap-lock flooring from Ikea in the kitchen (after Matt gets to see it in real life so he can tell if it crackles when you walk on it).

Gotta get up early tomorrow, so I'm getting ready for bed.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

2009 Cookie list

I have finally made my cookie decision for this holiday season:
  • Toffee chip cookies
  • Chocolate crinkles
  • Gingerbread bars
  • M&M chocolate chip cookies
  • Cashew toffee squares
  • Chocolate eggnog swirls
I'm running out of time! Somehow there's only 15 days til I leave for Christmas? We've bought gifts for three people...

I still need to do grocery shopping, baking, cards, gift shopping and packing. I still haven't decided what to send to NJ for gifts for my relatives yet. I had an idea, but I'm thinking it's not going to "travel" well. Sigh. Our christmas party season kicks off this weekend too - Friday and Saturday night.

I'm thinking of making a Chocolate eggnog pie and a Christmas cannoli cake while in SC.

But first, I have to go make dinner.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

SMART financial goals 2010

But first, a recap of 2009's goals:

1. We did pay off all our 0% financing several months in advance of the due date.
2. Roth IRAs - we maxed mine, but only got about halfway on M's. We ended up both needing a series of repairs and other maintenance on our cars over a period of 3-4 months (tires, brakes, alignment, etc) and redirected some of what would have been his IRA contributions to pay for this.
3. All of the CDs are opened and have already started rolling over into new CDs - we're actually adding $250 to each CD as they mature. This is totally on autopilot.
4. (deleted)
5. We paid off about 7% of my student loan balance, and also consolidated the balance at a fixed 1.75%. This on autopilot now too.
6. House DP account is open and we've already saved $4000 in it...track our progress at the bottom of the right sidebar!

Our goals for 2010 are specific (the S in SMART) but perhaps a bit less specific than last year's. We're also a bit more focused.

1. Max both Roth IRA accounts for the year - this is already built into our budget.
2. Save an additional $25K in our house DP account in 12 months - this might be a little tough depending on how/when things happen next year, but I'm gonna throw it up as a goal and try our hardest to meet it. It will definitely be our biggest challenge though.
3. Open a 401K/TSP account and contribute enough to obtain a full match - I fully expect to be done with my fellowship before the end of the next year (most people stay 1-1.5 years before moving on to permanent employment) so this is definitely a viable goal for 2010.

So there you go! What are your SMART goals for next year?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

20,000th visit

9:28 am today - no info on location, but they're a Mac :-)

I put a little savings doohickey down at the bottom of the side bar (will update once a month) - you have to click on it to see it full size because I had to shrink it down to get it to fit on the sidebar. I also added a link to my dissertation if anyone wants to buy a copy, hahaha. I'll autograph it for free!

Had a *terrible* workout today. I just had no energy by the time I got to the gym. I barely made it to 5 miles on the bike. I guess it probably doesn't help that I hadn't biked in four weeks.