Sunday, November 26, 2006

37 weeks

Here's my belly, the 37 week version.

As of today, Studs is considered full term. He really could come any time now, even though he's not due until December 17 (and obviously he could come after that too. He doesn't really care when we think he should come). If he's a week late he'll show up on Christmas Eve, so we're cutting it a little close. Two weeks late will be on New Year's Eve! We're hoping he comes before that so that we can get the tax advantages! I hope he doesn't come too much earlier than the 17th because we didn't get into day care for February when I need to go back to work (actually, I don't even know when we're going to get in and DON'T GET ME STARTED ON HOW ANNOYED I AM WITH THE WHOLE DAY CARE THING BECAUSE IT IS VERY ANNOYED) and we're going to have to come up with something in the interim. And I'm really not looking forward to alternating work schedules with Brian for an indeterminate period of time, so I'd like to minimize the non-day care time as much as possible.

We installed the car seats last week, just in case. And the hospital bag is all packed and ready to go. Now we just wait and see!


For Thanksgiving this year I was obviously not going to go anywhere far (i.e. anywhere where my family is), so my parents came here (Jim stayed up in New England and went to Thanksgiving dinner with his girlfriend).

My dad had, of course, just been through on the annual North-to-South migration and had left on Sunday morning. Since they were going to be driving back on Tuesday, and their dog Kelsey is not a huge fan of the airplane, Kelsey stayed with us for a few days. The cats were all completely traumatized. Kelsey is not really that great at reading the cats cues: she thinks that hissing and whacking her on the nose means the cats are playing with her. Also, cats running away = something to chase. So pretty much the cats have been hiding all week.

On Wednesday we got ourselves prepared for Thanksgiving dinner and my mom and I did a little shopping and organizing of the baby room. We finished hanging the pictures and everything, so the room is all set up now. Oh. I should go take a picture of it for you. Be right back...

Thats pretty much it. The most wonderful glider chair is not pictured, because that is still hanging out in front of the PS2. Speaking of the most wonderful glider chair, Brian got my dad watching 'Arrested Development' so they've been up there in front of the TV. My dad loves the glider so much that he totally wants to get one for himself.

Anyhow. We finished doing the baby laundry that I had decided to do (all the newborn-sized clothes, many of the blankets, some other stuff) and put everything away. It turned out well.

On Thursday we had Thanksgiving dinner, of course. We had my favorite easy appetizer which is:

toast and chop some pecans
mix them in with blue cheese of some variety
spread this onto slices of french bread
drizzle with honey

Yum. Also regular dinner. Since my mom was the only one eating turkey (Brian and I both being vegetarian now and my dad not being a poultry person), she made a turkey breast and the rest of us ate the other Thanksgiving foods (and my dad had some leftover short ribs they had brought with them). After dinner we played Apples to Apples (I won both times!) and started in on the pie. My mom had made a pecan pie the day before and had used a different recipe that she had gotten out of Bon Appetit. It looked good. We cut into it and all hell broke loose. The pie looked cooked everywhere that you could see it, but the middle was just soup. As soon as she cut into it the soup started oozing out. It was totally bizarre.

We still ate it - well, I just ate the cooked top parts and left my soup on the plate. Afterwards I looked up the recipe on to see if anyone else had reported ending up with pecan pie soup and indeed they had. It seems that the recipe really made enough filling for two pies, even though it didn't really say that AND you could fit all of the filling into one pie, albeit a very full pie. Thats what my mom had done, and it was too thick to cook thoroughly. Though it was pretty hysterical watching the pie ooze out, something unlike anything I've ever seen before. I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe.

On Friday my mom and I watched a What Not To Wear marathon on TLC. Hurrah! Brian and my dad worked on a project that we'd been talking about doing for like, a year - renovating our pantry. We have a nice sized pantry, but I hated it with a passion. First of all, its shelves (like all shelving we have in our house) were that crap-ass Closetmaid wire shelving. OMG, I hate that stuff. First of all, in a pantry? Horrible. Nothing stands upright on it. We had bought some sort of rolled out stuff that you put on top of it that is suppossed to solve that problem but it didn't. Its not much better in a clothes closet because it leaves ridges in whatever is sitting on top of it. I cannot stand it but unfortunately you see it in like, every new construction home. Anyhow. The other thing I hated about our pantry was that it was difficult to organize. The closet was pretty wide and the shelves went back into a recess in the wall about 14 inches on each side. You'd have to put stuff back there but it was hard to see and get to. And since the shelf went the whole length of the closet without a break, there was no way to really separate things. It was just a big disaster in there. So they took out all the existing shelving and put in wooden shelves on either side in the recessed part. Now its like a walk-in pantry. The shelves are a little less deep than they were, but I like it better now. I thought they were too deep before. And now there are many smaller shelf areas so its easy to organize. We got everything in there and we still have some room. They also hung up some hooks so we could hang up stuff like our pizza paddle.

And on Saturday we ended up buying a Christmas tree. This is our first time having a real tree - we usually have a fake one because we're not usually here at Christmas. But I like the smell of a real tree and I had always wanted to get one, so since we're not going anywhere this year we did. I know its a little early to put up a real tree, but we figured that we'd better do it now in case Studs decided to come a little early and we didn't get a chance to do it later. So its up but not decorated. I might do that today after I've worked on my grant.

They left this morning and took Kelsey with them, much to the joy of our cats who came downstairs almost immediately. Hope the cats don't get too complacent though because they'll be back pretty soon when its baby time!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Migration and baby prep

Today commences part II of the annual Lisa's-parents-southern-migration. My mom has already gone down to Florida. She flies commercial, thank you very much. My dad is flying himself, so he had to wait for the weather to clear up along the east coast. He's on his way down here today, two cats, parrot, dog and a plane full of other stuff to bring to either me or Florida in tow. So tonight we'll have a 6 cat/2 sheltie total at the house. Thats going to be interesting!

Another thing we're doing today is going to baby care class. Where we will learn to care for babies (duh). Which is good because I don't even know how to HOLD a baby - although last week, at breastfeeding class (more on that later) we learned that babies like to be held as if they were footballs and you were a Heisman trophy. Who woulda thunk it?

We had most of our pre-baby classwork last weekend, when we did our childbirth preparation class and the aforementioned breastfeeding class. Childbirth class was educational/funny/terrifying. Yes, okay. We learned a lot about like, labor. And what happens in labor. And some positions you can use to help it along. And how your partner can help you. So that was good, because we needed that. I think it made Brian feel more in control of things so that he can be a more effective partner than he was during the hospital vomiting visit, in which he was completely paralyzed with fear. Also, our teacher was funny and she got the fathers doing a lot of hilarious stuff, like demonstrating positions (in which they were the mother), etc. The most entertaining portion of the class was when she had all 6 fathers come up and act out a scene of what would be going on when you're in the pushing stage. One guy was the mother, and he had to sit on the floor with his legs open and a baby doll under his shirt. Another guy was the father and was coaching him. Brian was the labor and delivery nurse. I wish I had had my camera is all I will say. The women were all quite amused.

It was good that we had this fun part to the class because it tempered the terrifying part, in which we watched a video of women giving birth. Oh. My. God. I'm a little bit obsessed with the Discovery Health channel, so I've watched women giving birth before on TV. I know that it looks like it really hurts. I don't think I'd ever seen an actual baby head coming out though, until this wonderful video showed it to me. Um, are you KIDDING ME? This has to be a joke. I don't even see how that is PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE. OMG. Going to die. If I ever needed any confirmation that I was absolutely okay with getting an epidural, this was it. Because, holy crap. Also, one of the women in the video was looking at the baby head coming out with a mirror or something, and she said something like 'Are you sure thats a baby?' or 'That doesn't look like a baby' or something like that. Hee. She's right, it didn't really look like a baby. It looked like an alien.

Okay, once I had calmed down a little bit, we went to breastfeeding class the next day. Brian said 'You need a class for that? Don't you just pop the baby on and let him do his thing?' Hee. No. So we learned all about football holds, and breast pumps, and cracked nipples, oh my! Sounds like a good time. It also sounds like a full time job. So I hope you don't plan on seeing me for the first several weeks or anything, because I'll be upstairs with the Boppy pillow.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A big pink cast redux: A big purple cast

Yesterday I made a trip back to the orthopedist. Can you believe its been four whole weeks since this misery was first unleashed upon my foot and calf? I can't either. Feels more like 3 months.

Anyhow, it was very exciting because when I came in they took me directly to the 'casting room'. This is the room in which the misery was stored before it got all over my leg. More importantly, it is the room in which the scary cast removing saw lives. Hope! Joy! The doctor came in and busted out the saw and removed my cast. He promised that the saw wasn't going to cut off my leg (and actually a nice asian postdoc at work who doubles as an orthopedic surgeon explained to me how the saw wasn't going to cut off my leg - it vibrates back and forth, not around in a circle like it looks like. When it gets to the gauzy stuff under the fiberglass it gets stuck) but actually, it was fairly freaky and I had a hard time watching because I was sure this was all going to end in a huge torrent of blood. He cut the top off for me so that I could save all my cast drawings. And then my leg was free of its big pink prison!!

Oh, it was a joyous moment. Behold all the dark and very long leg hairs that had grown since the cast was installed. Take in the horrendous odor that comes from basically having worn the same pair of socks for 4 weeks nonstop. Wonder at how thin my calf has gotten while the muscle wastes away. I got to sit there for a while and admire my leg while they set up the X-ray. Then someone came in and loaded me into a wheelchair to take me down to the X-ray room. Good thing I was wheeled down there, because the casted foot was actually not super keen on being stood on. It felt a little bit like my foot had been asleep and now I was trying to put my weight on it. They took all the X-rays while I was still sitting in the wheelchair (covered with 800 layers of lead shielding to protect Studs). The sole of my foot started to feel all wierd and tingly. A little bit again like my foot had been asleep and was waking up, but not totally. The nurse said that a lot of people say that after they have a cast taken off.

Oh, my joy was short lived because after the X-rays the doctor came back in and asked me what color cast I wanted this time. I thought about making a run for it, but they had apparently ensured that my foot would be in no shape for running. So I picked purple this time. Its a lot darker than the pink, so not something that I can get any cast illustrations on. Bummer. Not that I really thought I'd be getting rid of the cast for good, I knew I had 6-8 weeks in my fiberglass prison. But taking off the cast was a big tease.

He said that my foot was healing fine and that he'd like to keep the cast on for 4 more weeks, but that he realized that I might want it off for when I was giving birth to Studs. So he told me he'd take it off in three weeks, on December 7. At 11:40 am. Countdown!! I still won't be able to be completely castless at that time, but he's going to give me something removable then. That will be bearable. All I want is to be able to scratch my leg at will. Oh, and maybe bathe my leg. It sounds like this bone is a) slow to heal and b) easily reinjured if not fully healed when casts etc. are removed. I guess because you're putting all of your weight on it, and I'm putting a lot more weight on it now than I used to be. My department chair at work broke the same bone and had a removable cast type thing on for 6-8 weeks, but he ended up re-breaking it at some point during that time and they had to put the pin in after all.

Unfortunately my new cast requires the same getting-used-to-it period that my old cast did. The old one had gotten a bit loose because my leg had gotten so much thinner. That was nice because I was able to contort my body around inside of it to try to scratch itches, and I could get most of my palm down the side to scratch things that were higher up my leg. Not so the new cast - it was made to fit my new, thinner leg, so I'm lucky if I can get one finger in there. Bugger. So I was up a lot last night trying to get to sleep, which happened for a few days after I got the first one. He said that my leg would continue to get thinner and that it probably wouldn't be so tight in a couple of days, which is something to look forward to.

Soooooo... mark your calendars! December 7th is the day when I'll be able to scratch my leg at will!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Brian: Iron Chef Baked Pasta

I think the whole ordeal of pregnancy + broken foot has helped Brian realize what things might be like after we have the baby and I begin my job as a dairy cow. In the second trimester I was pretty tired, so I didn't feel a whole lot like cooking when I got home. Also I was completely starving to death and I didn't have time to wait for food to be cooked. Then I broke the stupid foot, which rendered me completely useless in the evenings - sitting at my desk or lab bench all day gets my leg and foot nice and swollen inside the cast (not that I'm even having an inordinate amount of pregnancy-associated swelling - at this point I probably wouldn't even notice it if the area available for swelling wasn't restricted by the cast) which is really uncomfortable, so I end up spending the entire night sitting on the couch with my leg raised up on a couple of pillows (this actually seems to be getting a bit better this last week or so). So yeah, not getting a lot done with the cooking now either.

Brian has always insisted to me that he could cook but that he just didn't know how to cook anything that didn't have meat in it. I maintain that following a recipe works the same way whether there's meat or no meat in it, and that if he could really cook, he could cook meatless stuff too. Also, I have an entire cabinet full of vegetarian cookbooks and cooking magazines so its not like he's got to make up the recipe or anything. He has a few times this year made vegetable soup for me when I've been sick, but so far that (and mashed potatoes) have really been the extent of Brian's cooking.

He wanted to help with the cooking when the baby comes, so he said he was going to put together a little cookbook for himself and that once a week he and I could make something together so he could see how to do it. That was before the broken foot and the couch. We only made one thing together (baked ziti) and the cookbook has remained otherwise empty. Last week he started to think about how much eating take-out this might result in (we've been doing a lot of that lately) and he wasn't nuts about the idea, so he got back on the cooking kick.

So on Monday night Brian decided to make lasagne. He had found a recipe online and had stopped at the grocery store on his way home to get what he needed. He called me on my cell phone to ask me whether I usually cooked the vegetables before I put them into the lasagne. When I got home, it was about 6pm and he had just gotten home and was starting to get ready to go. I looked at the lasagne recipe he had chosen. It was like, THE most elaborate lasagne recipe EVER. It involved making a puttanesca sauce, grilling (or broiling in this case) vegetables, making a pesto oil, assembling these all together. This is not something that I would have made on a Monday night starting at 6pm, and I've been cooking for a while and also have the benefit of knowing my way around the kitchen. But Brian was not to be deterred, so he set off. And he wouldn't let me help, so I sat upstairs (in our glider/ottoman set we bought for the baby's room. Almost didn't get the ottoman, but it is great for the cast!) playing Final Fantasy XII.

Three hours later, Brian had finished. So we ate dinner at 9pm. Keep in mind that Studs is sucking the very life out of me lately, and I'm usually ready to go to bed at like, 8:30. I force myself to stay up at least past 9 (most of the time). The lasagne was good, but Brian had a few first-timer problems - the vegetables were cut too thick and/or not broiled for long enough, so they were still a little bit uncooked, and he hadn't cooked the lasagne noodles first. As we've discussed somewhere on this blog in the past, I don't cook the noodles either - you don't really have to. And you also don't have to use those yucky no-boil noodles. But it does help to rinse them off in hot water first to cut down on the starchiness, and (and this is the major part that Brian missed) you've got to have sauce on top of all layers of pasta because, after all, that is where the liquid the noodles cook in comes from. The top layer of Brian's lasagne was noodles topped with cheese, so the noodles had pretty much just baked and turned brown and had cheese melted on top of them. Hee. I think he was a little disappointed, but in general it tasted good and the mistakes he made were ones he wouldn't make the next time. I tried to tell him that he had picked an excessively complicated recipe, especially for a first-timer.

The next night he made mashed potatoes which, as I've mentioned, were already in his repetoire. However this time he made a more involved mashed potato recipe with russets + unpeeled redskin potatoes + garlic, and he even garnished with chopped scallions and BacOs (love that BacOs are vegetarian!). I tried to make potato pancakes with the leftovers yesterday and it was a dismal failure - it was more like mashed potato hash browns. Or like when you're trying to make a fried egg and you end up somehow making scrambled instead.

He also got a recipe for some baked pasta dish from '30 minute meals'. You made a caponata separately (without the eggplant because eggplant and my stomach are generally not too friendly with eachother, much to my dismay, I will however suffer the consequences for french fried eggplant!) and then mixed it with cooked pasta, topped with cheese and broiled. This one was good and much easier for Brian. He doubled the recipe so we'll be having that again tonight.

Now I'm trying to get him to branch out into bean dishes so we can get some more protein in the mix. I have a few easy recipes for him to try that I already know he likes to eat.

Friday, November 10, 2006

One year.

Today is the one year anniversary of the day that my brother Ed died.

I find that for most things, I sort of forget the details after a while. But I remember so much about that day and the days afterwards. It was a Thursday. There was what seemed like an endless amount of time (actually, I think it was about an hour and a half) between when we knew that something was very wrong and when the police actually told us that he was dead. I couldn't sleep at all that night. I remember ending up taking a bath at like, 4 am, hoping that would help me calm down. It didn't. The next morning, I thought maybe it hadn't really happened until my parents called me to tell me their flight information (because they were already in Florida for the winter). I had to call my boss to tell him I wasn't going to be in for a while, find someone to come over and keep an eye on the cats while we were gone. Completely hysterical, of course. Brian had to go into work to sort some things out before we could drive up to NH, and Chris and Denise came over to stay with me while he was gone. I felt like I was being a real bother to everyone, but I don't think I could have sat there alone either.

I remember the whole two day drive up to NH. In some ways it was horrible, just sitting there crying. Keeping in touch with my brother and parents who were up there dealing with things. I was upset that we hadn't been able to fly so that I could get there sooner, but we really had to drive because we had to take the dog. I felt like an idiot at every rest stop we stopped at because my face was all swollen and I would cry in the bathrooms.

When I was seeing the bereavement counselor, he said that a lot of times people replay in their head what they think happened when their loved one died. I didn't really do that, but I did endlessly replay this whole car ride and the surreal conversations I was having with my parents. They were at the funeral home picking out a casket and deciding on what color flowers they were going to have in all the flower arrangements (they picked yellow, black and white because Ed's motorcycle leathers were those colors). I couldn't believe I was even having that conversation.

When we got home, people were already at the house with my family. My parents friends and Jim's friends were there all the time, which was nice for them. I didn't really have anyone there except Brian. It helped a lot when all of our relatives turned up. I've really never felt so alone in my life. It was really nice that some of my friends had sent flowers to the funeral home for the wake, because I knew that they would have been there if they could have. It helped to keep walking past all of the flowers, looking at the cards.

I didn't have anything to wear to the funeral. I work in a lab, so I don't really need many nice outfits and I certainly didn't have any that fit me at the time. Jim's friend Sarah took me to the mall to help me shop, rather than going out for drinks with Jim and all his other friends. That was nice.

Brian and I had to take Ed's suit and pocket watch up to the funeral home. I thought I was going to throw up. They gave me a little packet with his personal effects, like his watch and a ring he was wearing. The night before the wake, we were at home putting together these photo boards that the funeral home had given us. We were going through old family photos with my aunts and cousin. My one aunt is a big scrapbooker, so she took charge. That was sort of fun. I remember we were going through piles of pictures sorting out which ones were pictures of Ed. That is inherently challenging, because Ed and Jim are identical twins and looked very much alike, especially when they were younger. I can tell the difference though, as can my mom. My dad, not always. I remember going through the pile my dad had decided were pictures of Ed, and one of the pictures was of me. Ha. Yes, I had a boy hair cut in 4th grade, but I don't think I had ever been mistaken for one of my brothers.

At the wake, we got to go in before it started to see Ed. I really didn't want to even go up there. I was thinking I'd just stand in the back. I was absolutely terrified. Of course, I did go up. They had made prayer cards (or whatever you call those) that had a picture of Ed on his motorcycle on the front, and a poem on the back. I have those cards all over the place, one in my wallet, one at work, two at home, but I still can't read the poem on the back without crying. Once people got to the wake, I switched into this bizarre Susie Sorority Girl mode. I didn't know what else to do with myself, so I felt like I had to act like the host of a party. I'm sure everyone thought I was insane. I didn't know many people at the wake, other than my family, Matt, Melissa and her family, and one of my friends from grad school who had driven up from Boston. I think most people there didn't even know I was Ed's sister. Ed's ex-girlfriend had come and I tried to help her get up to see him. She finally did, but it took her a long time to slowly edge closer to the casket. I knew how she felt though. I remember that I had wanted some gum (because I am an addict) and Brian and Matt came back with about five different packs of gum so that they were sure they had gotten one I liked. At the end of the night we put some things in the casket with Ed. I put in a picture of Jim, Ed, Brian and I from Thanksgiving a few years ago. Jim put in a bottle of Sam Adams Octoberfest (and some other stuff). He tried to stick the bottle down in the lower, closed half of the casket so that it wouldn't be super obvious, but of course there's no padded bottom on that half. The bottle clunked right down to the bottom and made a really loud noise. Everyone laughed at that. The funeral home guy got it out for us. Ha. We took home some of the plants that had been sent to the funeral home. I still have a big peace lily that my coworkers had sent, and even though I'm usually death to plants, I still have it and its still doing well.

The next morning a limo picked us up at the house and drove us up to the funeral home, where the family had a last visitation. My relatives were all there and some close family friends. The immediate family were the last to go up there. That was the worst part, because you knew it was the last time you'd ever see him. We stayed there for a while and then my mom, grandmother and I got into the limo - dad, Jim and Brian were pallbearers, so they had to wait and put the casket into the hearse. That was also awful, sitting there waiting to see the closed casket come out of the funeral home. We drove back down to Windham for the service. Melissa played the flute at the service, but I missed most of it because we were the last ones to arrive. I remember she tried to stick 'Danny Boy' in at the end for me, because thats one of my favorites. We had several readings that we had picked out. I think my Uncle Bart did one, and I did one. Brian came up with me just in case I couldn't finish, but I did. It was an Irish blessing that we had edited down a bit. Jim and my dad both spoke about him, and then we drove off to the cemetary.

The cemetary is a really old one right near my house. They had set up one of those tents and had brought all the flowers from the funeral home. It was chilly, gray and drizzling. The priest said a few things and then we all went back to our house, where we had a party of sorts that my parents friends had organized. It was nice to see everyone and to get a chance to chat. And, of course, eat and drink a lot.

People continued to bring over food, which was really nice. We had an old fridge down in the basement that we were keeping a lot of this food in. The day after the funeral, the fridge stopped working. We had to go out and find a new one ASAP. That was an interesting trip, because fridge shopping was not high on our 'list of things I want to do the day after Ed's funeral'.

Eventually we had to drive back and go back to work. It was really hard for the first few months. I couldn't concentrate. I rear-ended someone. I cried a lot in the bathroom at work. I didn't feel like going out and doing anything social. We didn't put up any Christmas decorations or send out cards or anything.

When I think back to how I felt at that time, I didn't think life was ever going to get back to normal. I couldn't imagine that anything would ever be funny again or that I would ever enjoy anything again. Some of my friends dropped off the face of the earth at the time I most needed them, and I figured it was because people would only like me when I was fun. So I also thought that people just wouldn't like me anymore.

Here it is a year later, and I do laugh again, and I do enjoy things. A lot of days I don't even think about it, even though at first it was all I thought about. I no longer feel like my whole identity revolves around this one event. We had started trying to get pregnant the week before Ed died, and now our first baby is due in five weeks (OMG!). I'm amazed at what I was able to get through, and now I know that no matter how bad things seem, I can come out the other side.

Luckily today is a government holiday, so not many people will be at work and I don't feel bad taking the day off. My friend suggested I do something that Ed enjoyed today. He enjoyed:

motorcycles (no thanks)
drinking beer (well, me too, but not something I can do right now!)
smoking cigars (ech)
playing video games (this one we have in common)

I wish I could be up in NH to go visit the grave and be with my family, but I can't. So today, I'm playing video games in my brother's memory. Heh. That sounds really lame when you say it out loud, doesn't it.

Miss you Ed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I'm on Amazon

If you were ever thinking you needed a bit of light reading, I just found out that you can buy my thesis (ok, or anyones) on Amazon. Ha.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Yesterday: The good and the bad

The good

The bad
Drat. This was basically an election about 'Do you want to keep Mike Nifong or not?' The one opponent on the ballot didn't even intend on taking the position if he won, the DA job would have then been appointed by the governor, I think. So it wasn't like you were even voting for a specific person. I voted for the other guy because Mike Nifong has made Durham look ridiculous in the eyes of the rest of the country with his terrible and self-promotional handling of the Duke lacrosse case, and I felt that maybe, in this case, the devil you don't know might be better than the devil you do know. The biggest problem here was that another guy ran as an 'official write-in candidate'. While I can see that it would be good to know who you were voting in, I didn't vote for him because I decided that the best chance in getting rid of Nifong was to vote for the guy who was listed on the ballot. When people came in to vote knowing that they didn't want Nifong, they'd have to also remember the guys name. I decided that more people would vote for the one on the ballot, which they did (39% vs. 12%). If that write-in guy hadn't been there to split the anti-Nifong vote, Nifong would have likely been out - the two opponents had a majority together. Bummer.

The greatest product ever

I really have trouble driving in the rain. I have strabismus esotropia, which basically means that my eyes didn't line up when I was born - one of them turned in. Actually, I think they both turned in to some degree. If I understand correctly, its because the muscles on the inside of the eyeball are too short, so they pull the eye inwards. I've had surgery on both of my eyes to straighten them out (once when I was 3, once when I was 19), but those were just cosmetic and didn't help my vision at all. The big problem is that I don't really have depth perception. When you're a baby and learning how to see, if your eyes don't line up well enough your brain can't put the two images together (which is what gives you depth). So it just ignores one eye - I always see out of only one eye at a time. It alternates which one though, because one of my eyes is nearsighted, thats the one I read with. The other eye is good for both distance and vision. I wear glasses when I drive because my nearsighted eye likes to try to do more of the work, which is a problem, and I get really tired when I have to concentrate on using the better eye. Mostly my eyes look straight now, which is good, except when I'm tired or really angry. In fact, Brian finds this to be a handy barometer for knowing the degree to which he is in trouble. Ha.

Anyhow, not having depth perception makes it tougher for me to drive in the rain and in the dark. In the dark I have fewer visual cues to help me determine how far away something is. In the rain, I also have that problem as well as having trouble focusing past everything going on on the windshield. Maybe thats not really a depth problem though. (Also, having no depth perception means that I don't have a career as a tennis, volleyball, basketball or baseball star - I can't judge how high up the basketball net is, I consistently swing when the ball is not quite to me yet, and I could never tell whether it was even on my side of the net or not.)

I know that technically Rain-X has always been meant for car windshields. But I'm a dorky lab type, so I have only ever used it to coat one of the glass plates in a sequencing or protein gel so that you can get them apart more easily when you're done. My fancy hybrid has trouble clearing rain off of the back window though. I don't know if the angle of the window is funny or what, but when its raining I can hardly see out of the back. So I bought some Rain-X and had Brian put it on for me. He also put it on my front windshield, which I hadn't meant for him to do, but oh well.

Yesterday was the first day I drove in the rain with the Rain-X and it was a miracle. I'm so disappointed that I didn't figure this out until I was 31 years old. The rain just slid right off my windshield. I could have even driven without my wipers off (not that I would have). In fact, my friend said that the wipers on her old boyfriend's car were broken, so he used Rain-X.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Time Warner Cable - my archnemesis

On Friday, I was working at home. Jasmine has just gotten spayed, so she was in isolation in one of our spare bedrooms. I took my laptop in there so I could sit with her, because she was the most miserable and lonely cat EVER.

We got wireless internet at home back in February, and I think its the second-best thing we spend our money on (the first being DVR) that we weren't really sure about when we signed up. When I was sitting up in the room with Jasmine, I noticed that I could log onto the wireless network of one of our neighbors and that the signal strength was almost equal to that of our network. That reminded me that I had meant to put a password on our network. I looked on Time Warner's website to see if I could find a FAQ telling you how to do this because, how hard could it be? But there wasn't anything, so I tried their online tech support chat system.

I waited for over 45 minutes to get through to someone, but that wasn't so bad because I was working in another window at the same time. When I finally got through, the guy told me he couldn't help me and he was referring me to Tier 3 tech support. He gave me a ticket number and the phone number to call. I had been trying to avoid having to get on the phone because it required much more hands-on time, but oh well. I did it anyway. I was on hold for about half an hour, then ended up having to talk to three people (each of whom I told I was supossed to be talking to Tier 3 and here was my ticket number) before I got transferred to the Tier 3 help desk.

The guy who helped me was most irritating. Of course, I was already fairly irritated, because at this point I had spent a good deal of time trying to do something that really didn't seem like it should be that difficult. Then this guy got on the phone with this completely condescending attitude towards me. I remember saying that I was working on a Mac and he asked what system software I was using. I said 10.4. He said 'Do you mean Tiger?' I was like, uh... sure. Its 10.4. He repeated 'Tiger?' like I was some sort of idiot. And also like 10.4 was completely meaningless information. Yes, Apple has assigned an animal name to each of their OSX releases, but to be perfectly honest, I've lost track of which animal I'm on. So sure, if he insists on calling it Tiger in order to have any degree of comprehension of what I am talking about, go for it.

After he determined that I was totally stupid because I didn't know that I was running Tiger, he asked me what brand of wireless router I had. I told him the brand, but he never asked for the model or anything. He told me to find the IP address of the router and go there in my web browser to log into it, which I did. I got to a login screen that I didn't have a login ID or password for. He told me what to put into those fields, which I did, but it didn't work.

At this point he told me that I had a really old and outdated router (which, WTF? I just got it in February!) and that there were hardly any of these currently in use, so he didn't have the information about how to log in to it. Again, WTF? He said I'd have to schedule a service technician to come out and help me. In retrospect, I can look back at this and think: why the hell did he think a service technician was going to have more information about my router than he had access to? I said, 'Are you kidding me? All I want to do is put a password on my network. I cannot believe that this is so difficult that we can't do this over the phone.' As if he wasn't already condescending enough in his attitude and tone of voice, he really switched into high gear at this point. He just kept talking to me like I was five years old about how he couldn't possibly help me, and if I wanted to be helped I had no choice but to make an appointment for a service call. I repeated that I was very frustrated that I had wasted at this point an hour and a half trying to get someone to help me do something very simple, and now I was going to have to take time off of work to wait around for a service tech. He kept telling me that there was nothing he could do to help me. So then he started to try to schedule the service call. While I was waiting, I told him that I did realize that everything that had happened up until this point was not directly his fault, I was completely within my rights to be frustrated about how this whole thing was going, and that his attitude and tone of voice was REALLY not helping matters. Anyhow, finally he scheduled me an appointment. At least I had a choice of weekend times, except one was Saturday from 8-5 (!). I took the Sunday 8-12 slot.

Sunday morning I got up, got dressed and waited around for the service technician while Brian went to work. He called me at about 10:30 to let me know he was on his way and wanted to make sure my internet was still not working. I told him it was working fine, I just wanted a password on my wireless network. He seemed really confused about that, but said he'd be over in a few minutes. When he got to my house, he was already on the phone on hold. He told me that he couldn't do this for me, that (and I don't really understand exactly why not, but this is what I think he said) he was more of a hardware and cables technician, but there were different people who did the setup sort of stuff. He wasn't trained to do that, and he didn't understand why he had been called out for this. Me neither, because its not like the jerky guy on the phone didn't know what I needed done. The guy sat on hold at my house for about 45 minutes, trying to get through to the tech support to ask them what the heck he was supposed to do. I joked that he should make sure he didn't fall asleep on my couch while he was on hold. Finally he said that he couldn't help me, he couldn't stay there all morning on hold and that he didn't understand why tech support couldn't help me, that what I needed to do was well within their grasp. He told me to call tech support back and tell them I needed a Tier 3 supervisor and gave me a ticket number. He also gave me his phone number and asked that I call him back and let him know if they had helped me, otherwise he was going to come back and see about giving me a new router (since mine was apparently soooooo old that no one knew what to do with it), even though he didn't think that my router was that old or out of service. He was nice and apologetic and I understand that he couldn't sit there all morning. So I got back on the phone.

I waited on hold for AN HOUR AND A HALF. I finally got through to someone in Tier 3 support and told them I needed to talk to a Tier 3 supervisor. He wanted to see if he could help me first. I went through the same thing with him that I had gone though with the jerk a few days earlier. He got me to the login screen and gave me a login/password combination to try, but it didn't work. Then he gave me a few other ones to try, none of which worked. I started having visions of having to get another service technician out. In stark contrast to the jerky guy, this guy actually worked with me for a good deal of time trying to figure out the right combination. THEN, when we had tried about ten different things, he walked around and talked to other support people around them and asked them if they had any ideas. When he came back to the phone he had a few more, which we tried, and one of them worked. I should also mention that none of the combinations we tried were the one that the jerky guy had told me to use. Once we got into the router it was easy to set up a password. He explained everything to me and waited while I got out my laptop and made sure I could log into my wireless network. I wish I had written this guys name down, because he was great. Oh well.

Anyhow, now we have a password set up and I know how to do it too, in case I need to change anything (or forget my password like Mike did).

Monday, November 06, 2006


Now that the blogspots are playing nice and uploading pictures, here are Brian's cast drawings.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Baby shower 2: Electric Boogaloo

UPDATED: with pics!

We ended our weekend on a good note on Sunday when a group of our friends threw us a baby shower! Yippee!! It was lots of fun. Kristin made up some games for us, one of which included measuring the total wideness of me and Brian. I think I was 46 inches around at my widest point. Awesome. It was a co-ed baby shower, but Brian did not recieve a Heineken cooler/CD player. Mostly it was just like a big, fun, party with breakfast foods. And also, after I had gotten a nice full stomach I had a mimosa. It was yummy. We got lots of clothes for Studs, which is good, because now he doesn't have to be naked all the time. Ha.
Here area two pictures from the shower:

It was a really happy and fun way to end a crappy week.

Not too much else is going on here. I gave a talk on Monday night at our first Triangle chromatin club meeting. That went well I think, but I was so uncomfortable that I wasn't able to concentrate AT ALL on the second talk. It was hot in there, and also my foot and leg were threatening to explode out of my cast. All I could think during the talk was 'Please be done. Please be done. Please be done.' And then when other people would dare to ask a question I would yell at them in my head 'Shut up!!' Yes, I am a good colleague. I will be a better colleague after my body is no longer held hostage by a) Studs and b) big pink cast, I promise. I will even ask questions.

I meant to have everyone at the shower sign the big, pink cast because it looks so lonely right now, but of course I forgot to do this. Since the cast still looked so sad, Brian took pity upon me and drew some pictures of the cats on it. He took pictures of them so I could see them better, and I'll post those later. He's a total cartoonist.