Tuesday, August 30, 2005

its a gas!

I'm enjoying monitoring the gas mileage in my new Civic hybrid. There is a real-time gas mileage indicator, and it also indicates the average gas mileage for your trip on the trip meter. I reset the trip meter when i filled the tank with gas. On my first tank, I was averaging about 38 mpg with the air conditioning on, which seemed a little low. So I started to pay attention to how I was driving, to see if I could improve the mileage a little bit. Mostly I started using the cruise control, which made a big difference. About 2/3 of my drive each day is on highways, and this upped my average mpg for that tank up to 40-41. I refilled the tank last week and have been driving like this all the time now (still with the air on though) and I'm up to 42-43 average, which is more like it. I imagine by the next tank I can turn the air off and I should get up several mpg into the published range of 47/48.

Brian has also been paying attention to mileage as he's driving the Pilot every day. On his last tank he was pleased to see that he got 20 mpg! See, we average out ok.

An update on the musical taste project - Death Cab for Cutie was a great pick by Larry, I totally love it. I also bought 'Sumday' by Grandaddy which I really like. That wasn't a suggestion from the MTP, but something I heard playing when we were out for pizza with someone. I found out what it was and wrote myself a little stickie note on my desktop to remember to buy it... and then I never did. Well, bummer. Because its really good.

Friday, August 26, 2005

and yet, no marmite.

My new favorite blog to read is "The Sneeze", which I have linked over there on the side. Those of you with children would also appreciate it, as many of his posts deal with the doings of his young son. Anyhow, a favorite feature of mine is Steve, don't eat it!, where he tries various disgusting things at the grocery store. The first one is 'potted meat'. That remids me of when I was a freshman in college, boyfriends mother sent him a care package that contained a can of 'deviled ham' that we were not quite sure what to do with. Certainly he was not going to eat it. Instead he opened the top and hid the can in the backpack of a certain fraternity brother. Said fraternity brother did not go to class much in these days, so his backpack didn't see a whole lot of action. It was pretty smelly. I was amused, because I am twelve.

I really think that Marmite should be on this list. I mean, lets think about this here. Its Guinness sludge. Not that I do not love Guinness, I do! Very much. But this stuff is the tar on the bottom of the vat that you were never meant to eat. Brian of course LOVES Marmite, in phases anyhow. Thank god we're not currently in a Marmite phase... peanut butter smells so much better. When he opens the Marmite jar, a horrible stench fills the room. Then he glops it on his english muffin, like... ew. Like the tar that it is. After this horrible concoction is eaten, Brian is not allowed to have his face anywhere near mine, because there is no smell so foul as Marmite breath. Interestingly, the Marmite slogan is something about "You either love it or you hate it". I'm firmly in the hate camp. Actually, the 'hate' website is pretty amusing, with some recipes, or '10 ways to ruin a perfectly good sandwich'.

Oddly enough, I kind of like 'Twiglets' which are like a Marmite Cheet-o or something. I mean, I wouldn't eat a whole bag, or even a whole SERVING of Twiglets. But they're tolerable.

Monday, August 22, 2005

mysterious non-pooping geese

So, the place where I work now is situated on a beautiful park-like campus. There's a big pond right outside, the whole place is wooded. There are a bunch of walking trails - not that I've used them or anything... There are a million gazillion geese everywhere. When we lived in Wind Point there was a pond in the middle of our development where the geese hung out. Of course the place was loaded with goose poop. I noticed that here, even though there are ten million geese everywhere there is no poop. I thought perhaps they had engineered non-pooping geese (or toilet trained?). But I found out that someone actually goes around and removes it. Hm!!

We had a good weekend - on Friday we went to Tyler's Taproom with Julie/Bayly/many others for J/B birthdays. The food was just ok, but they had a great beer selection. They had Rogue Hazelnut brown nectar on tap!! ON TAP, I tell you!! Its so good. On Saturday we had a new friend over for dinner - she works on the same floor as me and started on the same day I did. It was fun. My mom said I'm Martha Stewart now with the entertaining! Hey, its the only way I get the floors vacuumed anymore. I'm just kidding. Sort of. Anyhow, I made something that was very very very good from the September issue of Bon Appetit. It was a pizza made on ciabatta bread with sweet walnut pesto, havarti, pears, gorgonzola and arugula. It was fantastic. It probably is not up on epicurious.com yet. I also made pasta with tomatoes (from our garden) basil (from Kristin's garden! I'm rooting it so maybe I can plant it) garlic and pinenuts. And we drank many bottles of wine. A good time was had by all.

Now back to work! I'm taking a class here this week to learn how to do RNA interference. First class started this morning at 8am. I'm a morning person too, but I didn't get a chance to get any coffee first so I was dragging a bit!

Monday, August 15, 2005

I would lose my will to live.

This post was hysterical. If this had happened to me I would have simply lost my will to live. Right there. In front of the trash can.

When I was younger I was terrified of June bugs (er... lets clarify: still terrified of June bugs) and I would not enter a door at night that was lit because it would invariably be surrounded by flying horrors. I would enter through the garage door, because it was a double door and the lights were on either side. So in the middle, you were good if you ran really fast. Anyhow, one time I was on the phone with someone (Kendra?) sitting in the front seat of my parents car that was parked in the driveway. Why? Who knows. But it got dark while I was out there and for some reason I couldn't open the garage door. So I had to have whoever I was on the phone with hang up and call my house again to ask someone to open the garage so I could get in.

I am still just as pathetic, I am happy to report.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Many new things to screw up

So I've finished my first week of postdoc! It was very exciting. I have a fancy name tag on a fancy lanyard now. And a new parking pass.

I started the week off on a good note by driving out to Raleigh for traffic court. THAT was an experience. I've never gone to traffic court before, so I didn't really know what to expect. When I got up to the traffic court floor of the courthouse it was just MAYHEM. Seriously, it took me a good ten minutes just to find the end of the line I was suppossed to be waiting in. It was very difficult because the line wound around the room TWICE. I waited in line for 45 minutes. There is not much that you can do to entertain yourself when you're waiting in line, so I entertained myself by checking out all the fashion disasters surrounding me. I was struck too by the people in line who knew other people in line. I mean, are you at traffic court like every week? I don't think this is the kind of place where you want to be considered a "regular".
When I finally got up to the end of the line, you get to this desk where a woman asked me what I wanted to do with my ticket. I had no idea that I had options. So I said I didn't know, I'd never been here before. She told me to go talk to the ADA that was at the desk. This was a very nice woman who asked me if I wanted the ticket reduced. Sure! So she did. It was still $110 though, only 10 of which reflected the actual FINE. Oh well. It shouldn't cause any problems with my insurance now, which was the major concern.

At work I decided to jump right on in and start doing work. After discussing with my new advisor, he had suggested a project to start on that was similar to one I had been interested in doing that he didn't think was technically possible at the moment. Since I hadn't been doing lab work for a while, I kind of missed it and I was excited to actually DO SOMETHING. In general the week went okay, but yesterday I screwed up Every. Single. Thing. I. Did. Minipreps? Easy, right? Not when you forget to label the tubes. Of course, these were my second minipreps of the same thing, because the day before I had done them and forgotten to save some of the culture for a frozen stock. I did 4 maxipreps but stupidly stupidly used glass tubes when precipitating my DNA and even more stupidly centrifuged these at speeds that are apparently MUCH higher than they're physically able to go. How do I know? One of the tubes shattered in the machine and I lost the whole sample. And had quite a glass-powder mess to clean up. Ran a gel and forgot to load the size standards. Screwed up my tissue culture.

Once I get into it I know I'll be ok, but yesterday was a very frustrating day.

Fortunately I got to do out for drinks after work, because Karrie and Ben were staying with us on their way from Cleveland to some beach in NC. They got to the house right before I did, and we went to the Federal for dinner and beers. They have great sandwiches and the BEST FRIES EVER. As well as a great beer selection, including one of my new favorites: Tuppers Hop Pocket. Mmmmm....hoppy!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Ugly Cars and nostalgia.

I told Brian about the Ugly Cars discussion, and he was a little surprised that I didn't include the ugly pimp-mobiles we see around our neighborhood. Not that we live in a pimp neighborhood or anything, but I think we are surrounded by a few poseur pimps. Anyhow. The problem was that I didn't really know what they were. I'm going to have to do more research on that. Although I think at least one of them is the Cadillac that Eve was talking about... it looks like Lionel Richie (There was a car that my mom and I used to say looked like Lionel Richie and now I forget what it was!).

Anyhow, since I couldn't remember the names of any of these cars, I googled 'ugly cars' and came up with this, the Car Talk guys top ten Ugly Cars of 2005. Now, I don't want to ruin the surprise or anything, but I think many of you will agree wholeheartedly with their pick for #1 ugliest car. Also look at this, their favorite comments recieved on Ugly Car nomination forms. I like one from the Aztek "Lets face it, not every engineering student gets an "A". The "D" students need work also." Hee. And I'm sure none of those were trained in the Cleveland Institute of Art Industrial Design department, although given some of the stuff I've seen at their student shows? I don't know.

For old times sake, I also wanted to post a picture of this (I know its too big for the width of the page, but I wanted you to get the full effect!):

which some of you will recognize as... (dun-dun-dunnnnn!)
The 8-trackmobile!!!

My first car, which had been my parents car before me. A 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix, which my parents lovingly removed the 8-track player from and replaced with a cassette player so that I would not need to entertain my friends with Neil Sedaka or the BeeGees. Obviously, this is not my ACTUAL first car, but one I saw driving in the Memorial Day (or whatever holiday, I forget) parade outside our house in Cleveland. However, many of the details are right. The two tone silver. The hugeness. However, mine had a black velvety interior, rather than this sort of scary red. And I don't think the pinstripe was red on mine either.

Ah, the 8-trackmobile. Site of much exciting highschool fun. My favorite 8-trackmobile memories include:
1. Driving with Herryn to take the PSAT or some other test in the bitter Wisconsin cold, and the latch on the passenger side door froze so that the door wouldn't close. So Herryn had to hold it shut the entire way to Gilmore. Hee.
2. Egging unsuspecting people at Pershing Park (those losers deserved it though) and standing in line at the Dairy Queen.
3. Kendra getting bruises all over her upper arms from egging unsuspecting people and then having to have her senior pictures taken.
3a. Also, one time Kendra missed with the egg and egged the inside of the car. We had to stop at the Spur (where we had bought the eggs, incidentally) and clean it up. However, that was the night I started hooking up with whom I had long been boy crazy about, so it was all good.
4. With Elizabeth and Becky, finding roadkill on the cabbage-scented roads of Franksville to transport on the hood of the car (as we drove slowly) and deposit on the front porch of a guy we knew. This was always followed the next day by questioning said guy to see if he would mention it... like "Sooooo! Anything exciting happen this morning?" He never said anything, so either he was onto us, or roadkill on the front porch was nothing out of the ordinary at his house.
5. Getting back from a jazz band trip to LaCrosse or Eau Claire or something at like one in the morning in (again) the dead of winter, going out and turning the car on to warm up while we loaded stuff into the trunk and then-boyfriend Jason R. locking the doors, with the keys in and the car running. So had to call my parents to come out and help out.
6. Driving back from a party at UW-Parkside where a kid I went to school with (names changed to protect the innocent!) drank like one beer and smoked a cigar and then threw up on Herryn, her new shoes, her boyfriend, and everything in the back seat of my car. Then Kendra sprayed 'Red Door' and I cannot smell that to this day without being overcome with nausea.
7. Having to drive around the Rockingham Park Mall parking lot for like seven hours (it was Christmas) with Melissa because when we found a spot it was one I didn't feel I could fit into.

Of course my car is not pictured here because it pretty much self-destructed. I played a small role in its self-destruction (you will recall the infamous rear-ending-sneeze incident where I rear-ended someones brand new SUV when I sneezed mightily, thus failing to notice that all the cars in front of me had stopped because a tractor was also driving down the road). After that, the fiberglass front of the car had some bolts in it to hold it back together. I also had a small depth-perception incident (at least thats how I like to think of it) when I drove a little too close to the island around the gas pump and did a little damage on the passenger side door.

But the car had problems that were larger than anything that I could do to it. At some point the trunk stopped opening reliably, so I had to store everything important in the back seat. This included sheet music and music books, my golf clubs, etc. Remember when Brian Drier puked in the back seat? Also all over all of this stuff. I lost a lot of music that day. Wherever there was fluid in the car there was a problem of some sort. First, there was a phantom hole in the brake fluid line somewhere that caused a bubble or something to periodically interrupt the flow of brake fluid to the brakes, thus the brakes would pretty much stop working. That was fun, and in fact contributed in part to the 'sneeze' incident. The oil also seemed to vaporize such that I needed to (or my dad needed to) give it oil on an all too regular basis. The most exciting thing was that the gas tank had rusted out. Now, remember I was a poor high school student, so I didn't ever have the cash to purchase an entire 50 gallon tank of gas (ok, maybe it wasn't 50 gallons, but it was huge). I would buy like, 5 dollars of gas at a time. 10 if I was rich. I remember quite distinctly everyone in the car gathering up all their change and buying like, $1.67 worth of gas.

Anyhow, one day my mom and I drove up to Grand Avenue to go shopping (almost certainly we had planned around Macadamia Nut Custard day at Kopps) and took my car. She bought me a whole tank of gas before we left. We got up there, parked in the parking garage and started shopping. Then we heard an announcement over the loudspeaker saying "Would the owner of a two-tone silver Pontiac Grand Prix please come to the information desk". Huh? We were standing at the info desk when we ran into a guy I knew from GMYWE. He said, 'Thats your car? They've put orange cones all around it and they're directing traffic around it!'. Ok. Well, it turns out that the gas tank was ~half rusted, so the gas was just leaking right out of it. We had to push the car out of the parking garage and leave. It was a little mortifying, but funny now.

The Grand Prix finally succumbed to an electrical problem of some sort. My brothers and I would be driving to Pinkerton and the car would just randomly turn off. I'd have to wrench it over to the side of the road (no power steering when no power!) and wait for a few minutes, then try again to restart the car. I think my dad had hoped to keep the car (because it was going to be a classic!!) but the mechanic talked him out of it.

So please. Leave your 8-trackmobile memories in the comments section. I know you have them.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Ugly cars: A direct comparison

I know that Mel is feeling like everyone is ripping on her car, and I feel badly about that. So I started thinking about whether the Element was TRULY the ugliest car? I think this side-by-side comparison of three ugly cars will convince you that it is, in fact, the most attractive of the three:

Witness, the Scion Xb:

The PT Cruiser:

And finally, the Element:

Of these three? Clearly the Element wins for most attractive. It is helped by the fact that, in this particular picture it has a sign above it that says "TACO". I like tacos.
Similarly, the Scion is undeniably the ugliest. So there, now we've done the experiment and I rescind my previous statement.

The Element is NOT the ugliest car in the world.
The Scion is the ugliest car in the world.

But lets compare to a truly beautiful car, the Jaguar XKE.

Am I not my father's daughter? Don't worry though mom, I'm with you on the Corvette.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Walk for PKD

If I did not send you an email about this already, Brian and I have signed up to do the Walk for PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease) in Chapel Hill on September 17. Not only do sitcom star George Lopez and fashionista Steven Cojocaru have PKD (and if you didn't know that you don't read enough People magazine, but I forgive you), we also have a friend who does. And besides, raise money AND get some exercise! Hurrah!

We would really appreciate your donations! Money from these donations will go straight into PKD research, providing funding for a scientist just like me. Except one who works on PKD.

You can make a donation online by clicking here. I think at this point you can probably choose to make the donation in either my name or in Brian's, but either way, its all going to the same place.

No other real blog news. The love of the new cars is rampant. I could just kiss they hybrid! And in fact, I have. A friend from Cleveland is in town for a meeting and we hope to see him tonight. Smokey is inexplicably peeing on the couch again. At least its not a) brand new and b) we're not showing our house, like last time she got into the couch-peeing frenzy. A week of heartburn has apparently begun, making me consider buying stock in Tums again. Now I know that its clearly not stress-related, its just random because I'm totally not stressed. New job starts on Monday so I'll have a new email address, which I'll pass along.

Monday, August 01, 2005

a) a new car

So this weekend we began with the 'Things we can do now that we can't buy the new house'. We went out to the Honda dealership with the intent of buying a new Honda CR-V (SE, pewter pearl!). We had decided that we really needed something SUV-ish because we need some more cargo room. And Brian, who is considerably taller than I am, would really have preferred something that he didn't have to squeeze his knees into. We looked at the used cars first, where we saw a 2003 Honda Pilot with only 30,000 miles on it. Secretly I wanted a Honda Pilot. Its a little larger than the CR-V (built on an Accord chassis rather than a Civic chassis), has a lot more room. And, oh. Leather seats. And a GPS Navagation system. Turns out that Brian also found the CR-V very scrunched knee-wise, perhaps even more so than the Civic. We had never actually been in one, you see. The Pilot was also not significantly more expensive than the new CR-V we were thinking about.
Then we also saw a used (!) Civic Hybrid! Ohhh... a used hybrid. A 2005 no less. Only 9000 miles on it. To be honest, we didn't even test drive it. I think I sat inside. Both the cars are certified, so mechanically I was not worried. I loved it. I wanted to take it home to be my new car. So on the spur of the moment we decided to trade in our Civic and get both cars. The hybrid is so exciting. Kristin, who finally got her Prius after a year of being on the waiting list, said that she gets a little obsessed watching the gas mileage guage on their car, which tells you what gas mileage you're getting at every moment. Driving home from the dealership I could totally see how this could get obsessive. I watched that (Ooh!! 48 mpg!!) and the IMA guage (is the battery assisting the motor now? Is it charging?? Woo!) constantly. So very exciting. The car is bright blue and I get to drive it, since I will be driving further to work.
The next day Brian already started feeling guilty about getting an SUV. I figure that the hybrid cancels out the SUV ownership. Our AVERAGE car miles per gallon highway is still ~35, which is good. It equals out.
Now I'm desperate to get an iPod hookup for the cars. Mel has one in her Honda Element (the ugliest car in the world) which I'm very jealous of. I could almost have been talked into an Element for the iPod jack alone. The Honda dealer recommended a car audio shop where we could get one installed, so we may look into that. Otherwise I'll look for an iTrip or something.