Thursday, July 22, 2004
I've always been paranoid about shoes on hot sidewalks. You know how hot a sidewalk can get; even my dogs can attest to that, when I cruelly force them to be outside for more than five minutes and they slowly lift one poor toasted foot and then another in an attempt to somehow levitate above the hot patio. (Obscure concepts like "shade" and "cool grass" mean nothing to them.) It doesn't seem like such a stretch to think that the soles of my tennies would melt if I stood in one spot too long on a day like today. I also have some misgivings about car tires, although I know that they are vulcanized to prevent just such an occurrence. Are shoe soles vulcanized? What is the melting point of a Ked?
The steamy walk to Jimmy John's was totally worth it. This Sprite/lemonade mix is just what I needed! Much better than my cherry Icee from White Hen yesterday, which would not stop expanding and caused me a frantic minute or two of slurping at the neverending column of Icee rising through the hole in the lid.
It's weeks like this when you might as well be at work because nobody in their right mind would want to go outside. The current heat index, at 11:00 am, is 98.6 F, which makes me wonder how we can tolerate living in our own bodies because that's a pretty miserable temperature. And, oh look, lunchtime is coming up and I'll get to experience it myself. I think a cold sandwich is out of the question, unless I can request it be packed in dry ice for the walk back. Today is definitely not a good day to go get my student ID, because of course I'll have no hair by the time I get to SSB.
After today, I have TWO, count them, TWO weeks left! I'm pretty frantic, and really shouldn't be wasting time writing this post because I have a pile of articles on knowledge creation to summarize for the boss-man. However, I wanted to post this.
One week until we leave for Colorado. I'd like to say it'll be nice and cool there, but I've been watching the weather and it is in fact not. However, between 14,000-foot Pikes Peak, icy cold Arkansas River rafting, and the hotel pool, I think I'll manage. Which reminds me, I was going to go swimsuit shopping! It's good to have two suits when traveling, of course, because there's nothing worse than putting on a damp suit. Hopefully I can find something other than the teeny two-piecers that I've never been able to wear to good effect, even back when I was frighteningly thin. I need something that draws the eye upward, way way upward, preferably off my body entirely. A cloaking device would be nice.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Flying insects galore
1) The mysterious bug I saw in the yard a couple of years ago was an ailanthus webworm moth, Atteva punctella.
2) Saw a moth today that may have been a nessus sphinx, Amphion floridensis, at North Park. It was whirring like a hummingbird and drinking nectar from milkweed. Might go back with the camera to find it again.
3) Have seen red admirals and comma butterflies in the yard lately. Also monarchs are investigating my milkweed. Are eggs imminent?
Monday, July 12, 2004
Meet me in St. Looey, Looey
St. Louis trip report:
Saturday, plane was filled with Cub fans. Metrolink train was filled with Cub fans. Hotel was filled with Cub fans. Busch Stadium was partially filled with Cub fans, including much of our section. The only obvious Cards fan in our vicinity was a very drunk, very red-faced man who periodically yelled weak insults at whoever was nearby, including a trio of little boys in blue hats who didn't seem quite sure how to respond. The vendors did a brisk business in snowcones and lemonade, and Cub fans seemed perfectly happy to shell out large amounts of money for souvenir Cardinals cups as long as there was something cold inside. It was *beastly* hot, somewhere in the 90s all weekend, and muggy, and despite big poofy clouds boiling up in the afternoons, no rain. Cubs lost the game but it was fun anyway. A Sosa homer, and an irate and injured Ramon Martinez having to be pulled off the first base umpire after a bad call, and a very good job by Clement made for a fun afternoon. The neon Coca Cola sign with the cardinals that fly around after a home-team home run is still there; that's the only thing I remembered from my first visit to Busch Stadium 25 or so years ago.
We saw one fight outside, but overall the rivalry was good-natured on both sides. Makes me never want to go to Soxpark again!
The Cubs were staying at the same hotel as us, so while we nibbled on toasted ravioli at dinner, we saw Ron Santo and Matt Clement headed for their rooms. We and all the other Cub fans nearby turned into the most embarrassing 13-year-old girls imaginable as we gaped and squealed at the people we had *just seen* a few hours earlier at the ballpark. I guess we just love the thought of the gods mingling with the mortals.
We attempted to visit the Arch, but after waiting a long time to get through security just to get inside the underground lobby, we learned we would have to wait about an hour and a half for the next tram. So, we wandered the Museum of Westward Expansion instead, got some exterior pics of the Arch, and headed back to the hotel pool.
Sunday, we had breakfast at a Union Station diner, then went to University City Loop, the trendy shopping and eating area near Washington University. Looked into some shops, ate at Tomatillo Grill, visited a very nice bike store, looked at the stars on the St. Louis Walk of Fame, and then returned to the airport to see if we could catch a standby flight. We were going to go to Forest Park and the zoo, but it was SO hot that it just didn't seem like a good option anymore.
Friday, July 09, 2004
To all the people who believe that flip-flops are dressy and attractive
Sorry. They're just not.
Leaving for St. Louis tomorrow morning, to watch the Cubs probably lose to the Cardinals, and then to be touristy in 90+ degree weather. Because half the population of Chicago is apparently going there for the weekend (including my coworker), there was one hotel to choose from by the time I made the reservations. As a result, one of the most expensive hotels we've ever stayed in will be in freakin' *St. Louis* of all places. We intend to take full advantage of its amenities, especially the pool, and all the free pens and shampoos we can fit in our backpacks.
Must paint toenails. It's a vacation, after all. Did I mention I'm off work again next week?
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
The McCarthy Collection at the University of Illinois Library
While digging through the box where I keep all of our wedding memorabilia, looking for colorful bits I could glue into the new album, I came across my high school stuff, including two letters signed by Lynn Martin (who was my congresswoman at the time, later Sec. of Labor, I think) congratulating me on my various academic successes. Apparently I was awarded the Robert C. Byrd scholarship, something I'd forgotten all about. As I recall, I got the money just in my freshman year, but when I looked it up just now, it should have been renewable for four years. I also found letters from my state representative, who gushed that I shouldn't hesitate to contact him if I ever need anything. I should call him now and freak him out.
My conclusion, after going through my high school and adult-life mementos, is that I have had a pretty dull existence. The things I've saved have a lot of meaning to me personally (although much of it rapidly loses meaning over time - I mean, does it really matter that I placed third in state in precalc at the Illinois Math Competition?) but to anyone else it would just be fairly boring junk. When I'm a famous biologist or writer, and museums and libraries are vying for the chance to keep my collected papers in their archives, they're going to be sadly disappointed when they see what I have for them. We went to the Einstein exhibit at the Field Museum earlier in the year, and saw many of his notes and writings and photos. Did he think his own stuff was dull and worthless, too?
I found the essay I wrote in English 101 at Alma, an essay that was published in the Alma Morning Sun (I wasn't special; all of our essays were published). I had interviewed a former Alma professor and baseball coach, a gentleman who has since passed away. He and his wife were lovely and we had a very enjoyable chat, despite the fact that I was shy and nervous the whole time. Interviewing people is definitely *not* my forte. Anyway, I read the essay and was rather appalled by my trite phrases and run-on sentences. I thought I was a better writer than that, even at 18, and had a strong urge to edit the piece and send it back to the Morning Sun with an apology to Professor Skinner for not doing a better job the first time around.
Had a hard time waking up this morning, b/c was having a very important dream about taco salads and Keith Richards, and I needed to know how it was going to come out.
Seen on a camouflage t-shirt the other day when headed home from the Cubs-Sox game: "Ha! Now you can't see me!"
I started the Great Wedding Album Project last night. I ordered a box full of scrapbooking supplies, including nifty blue paper, silvery photo corners, and kitschy wedding-style stick-ons (hearts and flowers and champagne glasses). I can totally see how this could be a dangerous (read: expensive) hobby. My difficulties so far are that I have way too many pictures, and I feel compelled to use them ALL; and my handwriting is dreadful and not artsy in the slightest, so I'm not sure how to label the pictures or put titles on pages. I have a fantasy of getting a calligraphy pen and embellishing the pages with my gothic copperplate script. In reality, my pennings would look more like the stuff I scribble on the shopping list, with a roughly one in three chance of misspelling. (I'm a good speller, but my hand doesn't always accurately reproduce the letters my brain is thinking, and in the right order.) The new Target by my house (with the green roof and the fun escalator that shopping carts get to ride) has a scrapbooking section, so perhaps I'll go stare at the products and see if I can in fact buy words or letters.
The goal is to finish the album before our 10th anniversary. I'm so ashamed that for the last several years, our wedding album, the repository of our most precious memories*, has consisted of a stack of photos in a Walgreens envelope. Special thanks to my darling grandma, who made a new album cover for us. I can't wait to show her the finished product.
*I barely remember my wedding day. I remember bits and pieces, but as a whole, it's pretty swiss-cheesy. I don't really enjoy weddings much in general, and it being my own was especially difficult. Being the center of attention, trying not to do klutzy things while all eyes were on me, having to *dance* in public, all the while trying to keep my dress from falling down and my eyes from tearing up... I'll tell you, there's a lot of incentive for not getting married more than once in life. Besides the fact that I love my husband like crazy, of course.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
Was told today that I have to write a quick letter of resignation for my file. My first draft says:
Dear [boss's name]:
I quit! Hahahahahahahaha!
Perhaps I'll rewrite it.
I'm back at work after over a week of vacation. I only have *four* more weeks here. Kind of scary. On the plus side, I was feeling peckish and opened my desk drawer to find food remnants, and discovered a bag of salsa-flavored Doritos. Woo!
We canoed the Chicago River last weekend. The water was pretty dirty (big rainstorms the day before), but the weather was gorgeous and we had a great time. I thought it was more interesting than the North Shore Channel, which is 100% artificial and therefore very straight, and since its sole purpose is to feed water into the Chicago River, the MWRD keeps it clear of brush and low trees where interesting birds or animals could lurk. The Chicago River, though it has been straightened and channelized, is ironically a bit more wild. Much of its length is fronted by homeowners who incorporate the riverbank into their landscaping, and many have piers or docks for their own boats (ranging from canoes to zillion-dollar cabin-cruisers). We saw tons of birds, most of which we couldn't identify (might have been juveniles, which are tough). Baby mallards galore, and some white ducks (or geese?) with orange beaks, kingfishers, a great blue heron, and what might have been black-crowned night herons. Also, a male mallard with a gorgeous blue head. Just south of Addison is the decaying hulk of a wooden boat, looking a bit like a Viking ship. Standing up in the middle of the river at Addison is what looked a bit like a shrouded figure on a cross. River Jesus! we exclaimed. When we got close, we discovered that River Jesus is made of random vegetation and a couple of condoms. It's reassuring to know that River Jesus is watching over us, and making sure we only have Safe River Sex.
(ObMontyPythonJoke: How is American beer like making love in a canoe? It's fucking close to water!)
Just south of Foster is River Park, where the North Branch and the North Shore Channel converge to form the Chicago River. The North Branch comes in from the west over a spillway, and I suppose it's possible to portage around it but we just turned and headed back south. The current was fast enough that we didn't bother paddling on the way back, just floated and enjoyed the day. What a life!
Saw Harry Potter 3 and Spiderman 2. Both yummy. Theaters are absolutely *vacant* on July 4!
Thursday, July 01, 2004
If I'm sleepy, it must be Thursday
The rocket scientist neighbors are really starting to piss me off. They seem to have begun a new tradition: standing outside and shouting, slamming car doors, and flirting loudly with blonde chickies. All at 2 a.m. on Thursday mornings! What fun! Did I mention they're doing this right outside our bedroom windows? Did I mention that it's summer and said windows are OPEN? Now, granted, their noise level, the frisbees going up onto people's porches, and the sudden increase in traffic and decrease in parking are not that big a deal. (The guy throwing his girlfriend through a window, and ensuing arrests and ambulances...that was different.) But, in this little triangular enclave of the city, it's as jarring as an airport runway. Have these morons noticed yet that they are the only ones making noise in a two-block radius? Have they noticed that nobody else plays football across their neighbors' front yards? I feel like we're being taken advantage of. I also feel about 70 years old, bitching about kids these days and remembering the days when this was a nice neighborhood before these damn hoodlums came along... Argh.
Upshot is: expect to sleep badly every Wednesday night. When I have classes on Thursday mornings, this is not going to be fun.
My inability to wake up when my alarm went off led to some bizarre dreams including one where I was at an amusement park and getting ready to ride a new ride called "Car-freshment!". It was a roller coaster in which each car was an actual car, an old beater suspended from the track by its roof. On the very last loop, the track went close to a pool of water and the car was dragged through, dousing the driver in a refreshing splash of water and questionable physics. You had the option of keeping the windows rolled up or down. However, before riding, you had to rent shoes. The shoe styles were entirely random. I put on the first pair I saw because I couldn't wait to go on the ride, but the highly-trained shoe fitters made me take them off because they were too small for me, and I guess ill-fitting shoes make riding in a beater hanging from a roller coaster track very dangerous.