Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Momentary lapse

I’m going to geek out here for a minute (worse than usual).

Anybody here watch “Battlestar Galactica?”



I’d taped the season finale, started watching yesterday, and had to stop with 15 minutes left to go. Tonight I watched those last 15 minutes.

My. God(s).

I’ve found the plot confusing from the start, and now I have a whole slue of new questions.

The *one* person I’ve actually been able to talk about the show with is most likely, and for good reason, way too busy to klatch with me about it now, so I’m asking you – the Loyal Dozen as I am going to affectionately call you now – to help me out.

Please don’t think any less of me.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Feelin' all responsible, like a real grown up

Not only has my car assimilated to living within the confines of MN with her snazzy new plates, but now I have, too. Yes, it’s true, the state of MN has seen fit to allow me to continue to drive my car. I got an 86% on my “knowledge” test. Gimme a break, 32 out of 37 questions isn’t bad – especially considering I didn’t bother to memorize the penalties for drunk driving or driving without a legal permit. Why? Because I plan to never have to know, that’s why. So now I drive around with my WI license clipped until my new MN license arrives by mail. I don’t quite know why they need to mail it to me. I can’t imagine there’s only the one laminator to go around. Maybe it’s to “ensure” that I live where I say I live. They seemed pretty paranoid about making sure I was me, and in fact a legal citizen. Damn Canadians.

I have also opened an IRA. My job withholds some money for me in a 403(b), but you know me – ever the planner. So I sat through an hour and a half spiel by my credit union guy on my options, and now I have “more control” and can “live comfortably” with “increased spending power” when I eventually retire. He had a dry erase board and everything – very cute.

In other news: I will be entertaining my first guests next weekend when my stepmom and grandma come to visit (with or without various aunts in tow). They should be pretty easy to entertain. The only requests they’ve made are for a work tour, and to have Diet Coke on hand. I think I can handle that. My next visitor will be a high school friend currently living in WI. I’m hoping the weather will be nice and that something interesting will be happening around town. A college roommate should be the next visitor after that. We’ll see if she gets her shit together. Her job keeps her very busy so planning a trip isn’t easy for her, but it’ll be awesome when she gets here.

I’ll also be heading back to the Land of Cleves to attend the thesis defense of the last of “our” lab that remains in Cleveland. It’s the end of an era. Good thing, too. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see some of you. In the meantime, happy spring!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Blah, blah, blahg

Well, the trip to the Mall of America for the last day of my class left me with little blog fodder. The weather was good, the driving was easy, the mall was huge, the food was tasty, and we all had a good time. I’ll have to make another trip up there sometime to do some real shopping.

Two cool things I learned from class (not to say that class wasn’t informative, but some things stand out more than others): how to measure a small volume using a Pipetman, and that Bailey’s Irish Cream is the perfect blocking buffer for western blots because it has all the proteins you need in the cream, won’t spoil with the alcohol, and if your data is particularly crappy – start drinking early! Genius.

Since then I have been introduced to a little natural area where my friend and her husband “walk” their dogs (walk = let them run around with shock collars). It’s a nice little hike and the dogs have a great time running around and cavorting while we take in the scenery and chat. Good times.

In social news:
I’ve made a new friend. She was recommended by my parents, (well, scratch that, my stepdad), who met her once and chatted her up a bit. He found out she was moving to Rochester, and seeing that she was short and female, assumed we could be fast friends. Not having had the best of luck with set-ups orchestrated by my parents, I was a tad hesitant. But, I made the effort and she is, in fact, rather nice and funny to boot. She’s a dentist in a neighboring town, but lives not 5 minutes from me. Her husband will be joining her in about 3-4 months, job permitting.

She’s got me coming over to her apartment complex to work out in the evenings (she’d like to improve her abs and stamina, and I’d like to have some semblance of muscle tone). Thankfully there aren’t usually other folks around, so I feel much less self-conscious flailing my skinny frame about. When there are others, they’re usually some cute young men. Too young for my tastes, but eye candy nonetheless.

And, just for the record (for those of you I haven’t complained to already): working out is kicking my ass. I know it’s good for me, so I’ll stick with it. I ran for 30 minutes straight yesterday without my heart exploding, and for me, that’s quite an accomplishment.

In work related news:
My old boss has asked me to do the last few experiments to finish up my paper. I’m not thrilled about it, but hopefully, with any luck, I can get them done quickly and they’ll even look publication quality. I just want to be done with him and that project. He has also demanded a bound copy of my thesis. I’m thinking FedEx Kinko’s is the way to go. I think I can get just one made and shipped to him all via their website, which would be sweet. I wish he’d just print it out himself and throw it in a binder, though. Or hand it off to one of his secretaries. I know, I know, that would require *effort* on his part, and he’s not about to start doling that out.

My new boss left today for a 3-week vacation in Hawaii. Now that’s what a good boss *should* do. In the meantime I’m to do the experiments for my old boss, and do a fair bit of reading - his last two students’ theses, to be precise (and “theses” is the plural of thesis, I checked). When he gets back we’ll hammer out plans on what my project should be, hopefully in more detail than we have so far. He’s not the micromanager my old boss was, and sadly, it’s going to take some getting used to.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Better than eBay

Since I moved out of my parents’ house they’ve slowly and methodically been giving me back stuff that they said I could store at their house “forever.” Sometimes crap they don’t want gets thrown into the mix – much like this last time I moved.

With that in mind, I wasn’t too surprised to come into possession of some old vinyl records that I had enjoyed as a child. I have the soundtracks to Benji and Mary Poppins, a Mother Goose nursery rhymes album, a very early version of the Chipmunks (this is probably a knock-off), and some Christmas albums. Of the four Christmas albums, one is a children’s album (I know, you noticed the trend) and the rest are, I guess, technically geared towards adults and families (no, not *that* kind of “adult” you sick puppy).

I guess the best way to describe these albums is to ask you if you’ve been a to a gas station lately. If you have, did you go inside? Did you notice those racks or bins of cheap cassette tapes? Did they have some random mix tapes? That’s what these Christmas albums are like. Kind of cheesy, not a big label, and were probably purchased just to have something to play on Christmas morning, or in the background during parties.

As much as I appreciated my parents handing off these relics of my childhood, I was a bit confused because they failed to notice that I didn’t own a record player. I thought that maybe I could just find the songs on iTunes or the campus network, and reconstruct the albums on my own – but had no luck. Some of you remember me questioning you about having a record player of your own, specifically one with a tape deck for the purpose of transferring some of these albums to tape (I’ve got tape players in spades). Thank you, again, to all of you who humored me, and even attempted to help me in my quest to hear these albums again. Your efforts meant a lot to me. I wish I could have repaid you all with second-hand furniture, but there was only so much to go around. Let this be a standing invitation: if you’re ever in the Rochester area, you’re welcome here.

Anyway, I think handing off these albums was also part of an elaborate ploy by my parents to later foist on me a stereo that does in fact have a turntable AND a tape deck. I was excited for the opportunity to transfer these albums to tape myself. You can imagine my disappointment to find that most, if not all, of the albums are warped and sound terrible. I don’t quite know when they bit it – perhaps during shipping, or during their stint in my storage space. Either way, they’re pretty useless to me now.

I thought I’d take one last stab at finding the songs online and reconstructing the albums on my own. I tried iTunes, Rhapsody and eMusic. Turns out that Liberace’s “Christmas Suite” and Ronnie Aldrich’s “Winter Wonderland” are not in high demand. Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney were much easier to find – but what was I going to do with half an album? In desperation I turned to Google, and typed in a bunch of random artists to see if anything would come up with all of them. Lo and behold Amazon came through for me!

Why didn’t I start there?
Because that would have been too easy, that’s why.

Shut up, Mocky McSmirkpants. You’re supposed to laugh *with* me, remember?

Anyway, now I have my Christmas albums on CD, of all things! I can’t believe someone actually put them on CD. Granted, they were all under $5, so they’re obviously not big sellers, but it’s comforting to know that someone else loved these albums enough to put them on CD and distribute them to random people like myself.

That snow drift I was telling you about

Friday, March 02, 2007

I'm so ... lucky?

It’s been a wild week of weather here in the Great White North. Remember I said that last weekend we were supposed to get some snow? Yeah. Well, we sure as shit did. About a foot of it.

It started with a 48 hour winter storm warning starting Friday evening and ending Sunday evening. Now, having grown up in north central WI, I can say that I’ve experienced a fair amount of winter weather. I do not remember winter storm warnings lasting more than a day, so I was a bit apprehensive about 48 hours of red flashing WARNING! at every media outlet I ventured to, including internet, radio and my roommate the TV.

My fears were confirmed Friday night with a snow/sleet/freezing rain storm topped off with *thunder and lightning.*

I have never experienced thunder and lightning in winter before.

It’s just wrong.

Especially for the Midwest. Sure, the Northeast can have all the crazy weather they can handle, it gives Stephen King some material for his novels. But they have an ocean, so it’s excusable. Not here.

Being a weekend I was not bothered about holing up at home, cozily wrapped in blankets, reading books and rotting my brain with bad TV and movies. The storm eventually lifted, more or less on schedule, and life went back to relative normal.

Then the red flashing WARNING! popped up again. Another winter storm was scheduled for Wednesday evening through this evening. We’ve gotten another foot of snow. There is a very impressive waist-high snowdrift in my “backyard” that has filled in my back slab and stretches past my living room window. OK, keep in mind that it’s *my* waist and that I’m 5’2” – let’s just say that it is taller than the bottom of my windowsill.

Shut up, it’s still formidable.

I took some pictures of it so when I get around to having this film developed, I’ll share them with you. I’m thinking of cleaning my house this weekend and snapping some pics of the new digs to burn through the roll. Those of you interested in pics of the homestead, email me and let me know.

Those in the know weather-wise have said that Rochester hasn’t seen weather like this since 1982. How lucky for me to be a witness to the recurrence of these awesome forces of nature. It really makes me appreciate: 1) that I rent because I get free snow removal; and 2) that I commute because rumor has it that the Rochester city busses have NEVER taken a snow day. The bus ride in this morning was a bit of a nail-biter, but we did arrive downtown safe and sound – despite some minor fishtailing on the highway.