Saturday, February 25, 2006

Where are you?

Where are you in the Geek Hierarchy? Lets all answer this question honestly today, shall we?

I fit in here a few times, actually. I'm definately a 'video gamer' who ABSOLUTELY considers myself less geeky than Brian, who is a (gasp) war gamer. There is no spot for war gaming, so I'm going to have to call it 'role-playing gamer'. However, I am also a 'Pokemon fan older than six', which puts me down pretty low. I didn't even know what Furries were, does that somehow make me cooler?

(Found this link in the hilarious archives of Brian's blog. I don't care if you don't know him. I don't either. Ooh. Like this entry.)

Ok, really have to get out of the parentheses here. That reminded me of 4th grade, when I had a mad crush on Steve Studley (I am totally serious, this was his name. He was indeed Studley). He was the president of the student council, which I was also on. I always tried to sit directly opposite him in case he noticed that I was alive. I also always wore the same outfit on student council days, because it was my favorite and I thought he might like it. It was a pink shirt with white overalls that had various color paint splashes on them. One day someone told a joke or something while I was drinking my wild berry punch Hi-C (the absolute most dark purple Hi-C flavor ever!) and it all came out my nose onto my white pants, right in front of Steve Studley. Mortified! You might be surprised to learn that he never wanted to be my boyfriend.

A little too much spice

Last night we went to City Beverage in Durham for a postdoc happy hour. We had never been there before, but were excited because they had Old Speckled Hen on draft. Hurrah!
I got there really late because I was doing a timecourse experiment, and needed to take a sample at 7pm and process it, which took about 45 more minutes. Then I got lost on the way there, so I didn't make it until about 8:15. Brian had been waiting there for me with another postdoc from the lab. They had just gotten the table after a long wait.
There wasn't a whole lot on the menu for vegetarians, practically nothing really. I got the only thing they offered, which was a vegetarian chili. Oh my god. It was so spicy, I could barely eat it. Lets review here. I order extra hot pepper flakes in bulk from Penzey's. I often carry a small container of peppers with me in my purse. I buy hot sauce by the case. I eat my food VERY spicy. I put hot sauce on BAGELS for gods sake. But this was so hot that even I was having trouble. I told the waitress that she might want to clue the kitchen in on the fact that the stuff was so spicy that it was practically inedible, and for anyone else it probably WAS inedible. I don't know if she did or not, but I hope no one else ordered it.

I don't think we'll go back. The food was not that great, and it was REALLY pricey, considering the quality. I was not impressed.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Muffin hata

I'm blogging from home right now before going into work. I am making muffins for lab meeting this morning. I really hate baking. Hate it. But I need to bake periodically, just to remind myself of that. So: muffins.
I made the batter and the strusel topping and doled the batter out into the muffin cups. Once I had FINISHED, I realized that I had forgotten to put the fruit in. Duh. So I've got a bunch of plain muffins on my hands. I tried to stick frozen raspberries into them, but I didn't think that was going to work so great because the cups were then a little too full, so I ended up spooning them all back out into the bowl, stirring it back up and dishing it back out. Awesome. Definately remembering why I hate baking. And if this wasn't enough, when I get to the part where I try to take the muffins out and, even though I've used a non-stick pan sprayed with Pam the tops come off, I'm going to be SURE that I hate baking.

While I'm sitting here right now waiting for the muffins to cool, I'm watching episodes of 'General Hospital' that I recorded on the DVR (my absolute favorite device EVAH!). Oh, GH. I love you so. In college, we planned our schedules around it. Yes, I am that sad (but you already knew that). Its not as ridiculous as 'Days of Our Lives', so give me a break.

Anyhow, another woman I work with also watches GH, and has for MUCH longer than me. Right now on GH there is this outbreak of some monkey virus that has infected practically everyone on the show. Yes, a monkey virus. Luke brought it back from Africa (actually, I'm not sure where he was, but it looked like it was suppossed to be Africa) with him when he brought a monkey with him. As you do. The virus quickly infected everyone, and I think its suppossed to be transmitted in the air. Yet, all these doctors on the show are running around not wearing masks. Um, duh! This really bothers us, because we're entirely too much of dorky scientists. One of the doctors already died (Amee, if you're reading this and not watching it, it was Tony!) from it, one other one has gotten sick (Robin! She's back!) and a nurse seems to be getting sick (Elizabeth Webber!). Come ON you people!

DVR really is the best thing ever, and if you don't have it, you'd better get it. Now.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Matt and Melissa were here for a visit this weekend and we had lots of fun, mostly involving eating, drinking, shopping and playing of Trivial Pursuit or Karaoke Revolution. One additional bit of excitement was that Mel was able to teach me how to knit - finally! I had totally wanted to learn. I have all these delusions of making beautiful hand-knitted items that I can wear and give as gifts, and everyone will say 'Gosh. That Lisa? She's so cool.' Well, or something like that. Mel showed me something new she had made (a scarf) which you can see if you scroll down to the bottom of this post.
So we started knitting! We went out and bought some needles and some yarn and started up. I started doing just a garter stitch, which is where you knit (or purl) each row. Then I learned the stockinette stitch, which is where you alternate with knitting and purling to make a knit that is flat one one side (like what you'd picture when you think of a kint sweater or whatever) and bumpy on the opposite side. You can see examples of both of those stitches in my first ever knitted item, pictured here! I decided to make a scarf. Its certainly not going to be a perfect scarf. I messed up some stitches along the way and I also didn't count rows very well, so the stripey sections are not all the same size. But whatever! Its my first time! Next I will buy some yarn to make samples of different patterns which I can practice with. I got two books to help me now that Mel is gone and cannot fix every mistake I make and tell me what to do. I would like to make a scarf like the one that she just made. We found the yarn somewhere so I can give it a try when I feel more comfortable. Its fun though, and I'm getting better at it. For example, I'm not making my loops so tight that I can't knit onto them. I don't know what I'm doing differently, but it is working better. I'll post more pictures when I have something interesting to show.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The S is for Sucks

You can now add to your list of podcasts the Strong Bad E-mail podcast, which can be downloaded here, or through iTunes.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Goodbye Smokey

Among the three vet visits last week was taking Smokey in for her annual senior wellness exam. Smokey is our old cat who I've had since I was in... middle school? I think so. She's about 18, I think.

Deep down I knew Smokes wasn't doing well. She has been blind for about two years now, so she had really stopped leaving our bonus room - she sat on the couch practically 24 hours a day. But when I'd feed the cats each morning and night she would hop down to her bowl and eat. The last week or so she hadn't, she had actually been sleeping under one of the beds in a room nearby. I took her in on Thursday and told the vet that I didn't think she had been eating or drinking much, that her behavior had changed, and some other things. The vet wanted to do blood work, but said it could be something treatable, like her kidneys or her thyroid, or diabetes, or something. On Friday (right after Matt and Melissa arrived for their weekend visit, of course!) the vet called back with the blood worl. Smokey's liver is failing, and we're going to have to put her to sleep tomorrow (Monday) afternoon.

Even though I know this is whats best, I can't help feeling horrible. I'm dreading tomorrow. Every day this weekend has been bad because every day I think 'In one more day Smokey won't be here anymore'. And even though its a pet, and nowhere near on the same lines as say... a brother, its bringing up all the same feelings, and I don't think I was particularly ready to deal with them again.

Smokey's had a good, long life though. We rescued her as a stray and she was terrified of us for a long time. After a while, she would sleep on my pillow at night and sit on the back of the couch behind your head. When I married Brian I think she started to like him better, which was always a sore point. She enjoyed living with Wendy and I in Boston, with us in Cleveland, and then in Durham. She always was a prima donna and loved to be the only cat, so she was pretty disappointed when we got Alton (and then Cherry and then Beamish). But she loved to sit with us when we watched TV upstairs and to eat any of my leftover ice cream.

Right now she's hiding under our bed, where she's been almost all weekend. Tomorrow I'm going to take Matt and Melissa to the airport, stop in at work for a while, and then come back home to spend some time with her before we take her to the vet.
And then totally cry my eyes out for the fiftieth time this week.

Will write more uplifting posts later. We finally have internet access at home (!) so I can blog whenever I want!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Lisa v. Beamish

The victor? Lisa. One ripped shirt and several scratches later anyhow.

This morning Brian hung around a bit longer than normal to help me catch Beamish. Even though her appt. wasn't for like, another hour at that point, I thought it was better to have some help and let her sit in the cat carrier for a while than to try to do it myself. I explained the plan to Brian in detail: I would get Beamish into the bathroom (somehow) and close the door, pick her up, and then Brian would be outside with the cat carrier ready for her. Then I'd stuff her in. Most of this plan worked very well. She came into the bathroom, I threw one of her mice over into the corner so she was far enough away from the door that I could close it without her making a break for it. I picked her up, and opened the door.... and no Brian. I called him, still no Brian. Then I heard him say 'I'm coming!' at which point I realized that he was DOWNSTAIRS. The cat was going nuts by this point trying to get away and finally she did, before he got the cat carrier fully into action. Of course, I was a little ticked off, and I told Brian to shove off and go to work, since he wasn't being much help to me.... which he did.

Next Beamish is off hiding under the bed in one of the spare rooms. Actually hiding IN the boxspring, which was nice. I didn't know how to get her out, and I decided that the best way was to remove the mattress and boxspring from the bed entirely, which I managed to do. Then she was totally freaked out, and tried to hide behind the mattress, between it and the wall. All of the pillows were over there, as well as a small bedside table, which she hid underneath. I crawled in there to get her and she escaped through a gap between the end of the mattress and the wall, which I hadn't noticed. I crawled back out and went around to the other side, and of course she was right back under the table. I managed to push the mattress up against the wall so she was trapped - and I crawled back in there and got her! I carried her into the room with the carrier and got her in, and made it to the vet on time. I totally rule.

Of course, my shirt had multiple holes in it by this point, my arms are scratched and so is my chest, which is nice. But Beamish is done for another year.

Also, Happy Valentines Day, everyone!!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Taking Beamish to the vet

This week, pretty much all the cats (except Cherry) are going to the vet for one check-up or another. Tomorrow is sure to be the most exciting of these vet visits, as we have to take Beamish in. Beamish is very cute and everything, but the one problem is that she is terrified of everyone and everything - primarily the dog, and Brian and I. I remember the first time we had to take her in for something, it was a major ordeal getting her into the cat carrier. We had to try to coax her out from under the bed, first of all. This involved some dangling of toys next to the bed, and then throwing them into our adjacent bathroom in hopes that she would follow. She didn't, and I think we finally had to accomplish this by Brian lifting up the mattress and me crawling underneath to get her. She isn't as bad now as she was then, and she does come out regularly and even sits in the same room as us. She just doesn't want us to touch her. So I imagine this will be somewhat of a challenge.

In case we're not able to get her, I have another appointment on Thursday which I am bringing Alton and Smokey to. I told the vet that if I couldn't get Beamish on Tuesday, I'd bring those two and try again on Thursday.

Should be exciting!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

And I thought a few mice were bad...

You might recall, if you knew me then, that I had pet mice in college. I stole a couple from the lab that I worked in. One of the ones I stole was pregnant (which I, of course, didn't know) and she had babies. In three weeks, when I weaned the babies, I had to find something to do with them. I kept some of the females, and gave the rest to other people. I gave a few to one of my sorority sisters that I did not particularly care for - but I made sure to give her males. They're much smellier pee-wise than females. All of my other sisters living on the floor thought I was a wonderful mouse caretaker and she was a terrible one, because her room (and the whole quad) always smelled horrible, and mine never did. Hee. My little secret.

Anyhow, some of the other ones sadly found their way to another sorority sister who had a pet snake. I was really devastated by this, but I didn't know what else to do with the poor mousies.

Today I read this post on Karl's friend Brian's blog. I laughed so hard I could barely breathe. First of all, where the hell do you get a cayman in the first place? Snakes, ok. And what do you do with it when it gets too big and tries to eat you? Is that where all the alligators in the sewers come from? Second, there are snakes that eat chickens??? Oh my god.

Ok, even besides these two revelations, that post is hilarious.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Fug, fug, and more fug.

Lots of post-Grammy's fug over on Go Fug Yourself, including ol' Teri Hatcher and her whore dress.

Speaking of fug, Melissa and her alter ego Heidi Ellis pointed out this fun blog, You Knit What?? It was totally my New Years Resolution to learn to knit, especially after Mel made me the cute felted bag, but alas - I have not gotten so much as a ball of yarn into this yet.

Also, I know that you're jealous, but I'm going to see Franz Ferdinand and Death Cab for Cutie when they come to Duke in April! Yippee. Right before my birthday too, so I can feel extra old when surrounded by all the Barbie-like undergrads.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Lisa does the experiment: Going to the bathroom

Wait!!! Come back!!

Don't worry. There is no experiment involving my actual bathroom activities. This post is safe for your virginal ears.

Ok. So last night? I was just about to leave work but I had to avail myself of the facilities first, because I have the smallest bladder in recorded history. I'm in there. I'm doing my thing. All of a sudden the toilet goes 'cha-chunk!' and drops an inch or so. In total fear of my life, I leap off of the toilet! Something that connects the bowl part to the wall had broken (there was a broken metal ring underneath the toilet, and I'm assuming that was the critical component) so that the bowl was no longer anchored firmly to the wall. Holy crap. I was a little nervous about flushing, but I did it anyhow. As the bowl was refilling, water did leak out of the top flusher part. But not a ton, so not really a huge deal - except for the whole broken toilet aspect.

I had to call the Troubleshooter (this seems like such a funny title to me - this is the person who you call when things break. I always think of the person on the evening news who tackles consumer complaints in a sensational manner), who of course wasn't at work anymore, given that it was 6:30 or so and after the normal employees work hours. So I had to leave a message detailing my problem:

"Hi. So, its 6:30 on Wednesday night and I'm calling because one of the toilets in the 4th floor womens restroom just broke off the wall. I was just sitting there and something broke. Its leaking a little bit, but not too much. I put a sign on the door so that no one else would use it. So, please come up and take a look at it tomorrow morning. And also, apparently I need to go on a diet!".

I'm sure she enjoyed THAT message this morning! And now I will be famous as the Girl Who Broke a Toilet. The line for autographs forms to the left.


I love me some hedgies!!

Monday, February 06, 2006

A little math never killed anyone...yet

In lab meeting this morning, our department head mentioned an upcoming seminar sponsored by the biostatisics department that he thought we might be interested. He said "Now, I know it will be a little math-heavy" (also known as mathy). "It might be a little painful, but as far as I'm aware no one has ever died from math."

I say: No one has ever died from math... YET. I'm sure there's still a chance, as I've felt like I was nearly dead after certain very mathy lectures. I'm sure that one more incomprehensible slide about MCMC would have done the trick. I was just LUCKY to escape with my life. But next time, I might not be so lucky, so I think I'll skip it. Just to be safe.

more podcasts

Its a little late in the cycle for me to be finally blogging about this, but if you like podcasts and you like British accents and the men who bring you The Office, you will like the Ricky Gervais podcast. The series of 12 podcasts is almost over, but if you subscribe to it, you should be able to download all the previous ones.

I like all three of those things, so I'm a fan.

I also enjoy the Cycling Insight podcast, even though I do not watch nor perform any cycling-related activities. Its just funny, funny, funny! I know that some of you blog readers do enjoy cycling-related activities, so you will like it for sure.

I sometimes listen to these podcasts on my iPod while I'm in the lab. Usually I am totally cracking up, and no one can figure out why, so they think I'm crazy (crazier, I mean). Just now I was analyzing sequences on my computer while listening, and everyone was trying to figure out what could be so freaking hilarious about DNA sequences.