bintlog v2.0
Saturday, October 30, 2004
So, did you hear...
that the Red Sox won the World Series?

Wait, let me say that again: The Red Sox won the freakin' World Series!!!


So, now it's our turn, yeah?
Saturday, October 23, 2004
The hell...?
So why is it that I snap awake at 3:00 am on a Saturday, but it takes me a full hour to drag my sorry butt out of bed when my alarm goes off at 6 on a weekday?

A storm woke me up, and I couldn't get back to sleep because of course I have "MUST FIND DISSERTATION PROJECT" going through my head every single moment that I'm awake (and sometimes when I'm asleep). I decided to just get up and screw around on-line for a while, and when Mark finally woke his lazy self up at 5-ish, we road-tripped to Krispy Kreme with the dogs. Then when the rest of the world finally woke up, we went to Home Depot and attempted to rent a wood chipper (which didn't work out b/c it turns out "large" means "needs to be pulled home with a trailer hitch" and that was a bit more heavy equipment than we really need for a couple of shrubs), ran little errands, and were back home around 10. I felt like I'd done enough for a whole day, and it wasn't even freakin' *lunchtime* yet. Oy!

The rain just won't stop. We needed it, but I wanted to do yardwork today. I even bought new gloves!! *sob* I should work on my paper, but instead I'll probably transplant a couple of things and maybe start a puzzle.

Yesterday our 531 class went down to Midewin for the double secret behind-the-scenes tour. The prairie isn't open to the public yet; in fact, I think the only thing open may be the welcome center and a small area right around it. It's a very interesting piece of land, highly fragmented by past land uses and roads and new fences. Rather than restoring the 19,000 acres (I think that's's about 30 square miles) as one continuous prairie, they're preserving chunks for different uses, including maintaining cool-season non-native grasses because of the populations of grassland birds they support, and not cutting down all of the dreadful, dreadful osage orange trees because loggerhead shrikes like to nest in them. They also lease some of the land out for cattle grazing, which is unnerving until you hear the explanation. Cattle!! on the prairie!! Aiyeee! The cattle are long-horns and very beautiful (you know how I love cow-oooooos!), and they keep the invasives and shrubs from taking over on some parcels until the management team can get around to deciding what to do with that land. Plus, income is good. The coolest part, though, was the bunkers, over 300 concrete-lined hillocks with prairie growing over top of them. We ate lunch on top of one of them. It would be a gorgeous place to go with a black and white camera in winter, I think. The grid pattern made by the bunkers is lovely. It feels a bit like a cemetery, but in the reassuring nearness of the past way, not the Sunnydale about-to-get-bitten-in-the-neck way.

They also have a huge pile of ash that is the remains of burned TNT (or side products from TNT production - I wasn't sure). The Army needs to come and do something with it, but they have better things to do with their time and in the meantime it's covered with a giant tarp. Our guide wasn't clear on whether the ash is toxic, but it seems hard to believe that it *isn't*.

Friday, October 15, 2004
Living in an art film
It's insanely hot in my office. My officemates are smarter than me and left early. I worked on my paper until I ran out of brain and coherent sentences, played some Minesweeper to cleanse the mental palate, and headed for the Blue Line for a relaxing half hour of The Golden Compass. But the moment the train ducked into the tunnel under Halsted, I realized my horrible mistake: there were no lights on my car. I could see the car ahead gleaming with festive fluorescence, but I and my fellow travelers were plunged into surreal darkness. I attempted to read at the stops, tilting the book to catch the dim station light, but it took me so long to just find where I left off that I didn't make much progress. The story, reaching a particularly exciting climax, kept dancing out of my reach.

So I resigned myself to the ride. Most interesting was the fact that nobody on the car complained or flounced through the door to the next car in irritation. We all rode quietly together in the dark, without fear of each other or resentment towards the transit gods. It was Friday afternoon, dark and untroubled, and we knew we would return to the sunlight soon enough. I watched the flickers and shadows on the walls as the lights in the tunnel zipped by; the strobe effect made the steel poles and window frames shift rapidly back and forth in space. And everything was black and white and gray, except for the occasional soft orange light from a fixture in the tunnel, and the bright yellow fleece worn by the man standing in the center of the car. It was like a black and white art film where the filmmaker has hand-colored one significant object in order to make a statement about...well, something. Like the girl in the red coat in Schindler's List. I'm not sure what the yellow-fleeced guy symbolized. Perhaps the sun.

Not a morning person
So this tall thin Asian guy this morning apparently missed his stop. The train had stopped at Clinton, and suddenly he jumped out of his seat and stared helplessly at the doors as they closed. "Fuck!!" he yelled, throwing himself back against the glass partition in frustration. I watched covertly, because he was between me and my door and my stop was next and I wanted to plan my escape if he decided to do something dangerously weird. He flopped back against the partition melodramatically a few more times, and swore a bunch more, to make good and sure that we all knew just how completely the CTA had screwed him, and then he opened his messenger bag, took out his Burberry plaid umbrella, and threw it onto the floor. I'm not sure what the poor umbrella ever did to him, but there it lay, and I looked at it and looked at him and wondered if umbrellas could be made into pipe bombs. We got to Halsted, and I and another lady were hanging back warily to see what he'd do. The doors opened, and he gave the umbrella a vicious kick, sending it almost off the other side of the platform. He exited after it, and we followed at a safe distance. We of course chuckled nervously about him, and then she somehow turned the conversation to "Is your hair naturally curly? I love it!"

Talk about your anticlimactic endings.

[ObWeatherNote: It is very rainy today. My hair is therefore frighteningly curly, and people in the know realize that that is *not* a good thing. I put it up in a bun as soon as I got to the lab.]

And now, for the continuing stooooory of a woman who's at the end of her rope: I got paid today for a job that I don't have. Again. And not only that, but several of the various corrections I was expecting either didn't happen or happened too much, and I checked my bank account and there are two deposits from U of I that I can't explain at all (although I later did identify one of them, and it's stupid but at least I know why it's there). And the HR/billing system is down for maintenance today, because of course payday is the perfect day to do maintenance. I'm about ready to get a sleeping bag and live outside the president's office until he personally fixes every single thing wrong with my paycheck. Seriously, the university is flinging bunches of money at me right and left, and they WON'T FUCKING STOP!! This mess is not going to be sorted out this year, I'm sure. Which makes me wonder how this is going to mess up my income taxes for 2004 AND 2005.

Last plant phys class is Monday night. I am very glad. I have to admit though that he talked about some things that caught my fancy last night, regarding Swertia (American columbo) and Amaranthus plants brought to Illinois by the Indians. I also really like the hemlock and water hemlock stuff - poisonous plants are very cool - but was puzzled by his assertion that it used to be thought that poisons and essential oils and such are anti-herbivory agents, but that is no longer the belief. Really? Having a hard time believing that and would like to know more.

Not sure the nut allergen thing will work out. Will do more research.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004
And, in lunch news...
Today's lunch: a free donut (chocolate!) and a bag of cheddar Ruffles. And not the not-entirely-unhealthy baked ones, ho no! but the classic greasy-fingerprints-on-the-laptop type. Yum. That should get the burning desire for salt out of my system for a while. Tonight: spaghetti with Italian sausage, and the first apple crisp of the season. I am SO domestic.

Jealous as all get-out today - one of my classmates has a dissertation project idea worked out. Meanwhile, I drift aimlessly through piles of publications and wish I knew what I was doing.

Libby went in for a dental on Monday. Last night, we were afraid she'd developed an infection because her cheeks and eyes were puffy and she wasn't at all "bright". I was going to call the vet first thing this morning, but when I got up she looked great, bouncy and waggy and such, and the swelling was gone. It's so hard when one of the dogs is sick. At least when someone's bleeding, I can fix that. When they're sick, I just watch helplessly and wonder how I'll know when they've crossed into emergency territory.

Saturday, October 09, 2004
Fuzzy dogs!
Today was McHound Bath Day. Baths are usually followed up by pictures because the dogs (esp. Libby) look so cute when they're all clean and fuzzy, and have eaten enough biscuits that they've forgotten their resentment.

Friday, October 08, 2004
Ghost payrollers, part 2
A civil servant drove to work one dark and windy day
He stopped his van for coffee as he went along his way
When all at once a mighty herd of happy folks he spied
Looking well-fed and well-rested, driving cross the ragged skies

Yippee i yay Yippee i yo
Ghost payrollers in the sky

Their shoes were Bruno Magli and their clothes were Hugo Boss
They held titanium golf clubs with their monograms across
A bolt of envy went through him as they roared across the sky
behind the wheels of Porsches… and he heard their joyous cry

Yippee i yay Yippee i yo
Ghost payrollers in the sky.

Their faces tanned, their hands were soft, their hair was trimmed and neat
They showed no sign of stress or fear from deadlines they must meet
Their mouths were twisted up with scorn, as the working class they spied
From the comfort of their Beemers way up high in carefree skies

Yippee i yay Yippee i yo
Ghost payrollers in the sky.

A ghost payroller called out his name as he walked back to his van
If you want to save your soul from hell a-workin’ for the man
Just make a friend at City Hall and no longer be a clerk
All you need’s a made-up job title and a paycheck for no work

Yippee i yay Yippee i yo
Ghost payrollers in the sky.
Ghost payrollers in the sky.
Ghost payrollers in the sky.
Yippee i-yay, yippee i-yo...
Ghost payrollers in the sky!

I always said I wanted to be a ghost payroller. I mean, really, what a great deal! But now that I'm inadvertantly doing so because the university has so far been incapable of terminating me, and I'm still getting paid for a job I thought I quit two months ago, I find it's just really stressful. Frequent phone calls to the amusing phone triage system at Payroll, guilty emails to the friend at the old office who may be the only one who can fix it, and careful lists of numbers that outline what I'll have to give back when they finally get around to asking for it... If I'd known it was going to take this long, I *totally* would have invested that check (1.86% profit in the contrafund for three weeks, or 17.9% in Westell, argh).

I just find it mind-boggling that the university isn't ALL OVER this issue, sending me scary letters and broken-nosed guys named Freddie Fingers. I mean, money is coming out of my old office's budget to pay me. The university is paying taxes on me. I'm costing them taxpayer money! And nobody seems to care!! I feel like I should call WGN and tell them. Maybe they'll send Fred Shropshire over to interview me.... hmmmm ;) The real winner of course is the insurance company, who is getting premiums with no risk of having to pay out.

When all is said and done, maybe I should write somebody a letter. I have no idea who to address it to, and I don't want to get my friend in trouble, but the size of the crack I fell through is rather appalling and I think somebody needs to repair it, and soon.

Oh St. Jude, hear my prayer
From yesterday's USA Today, a lovely article about Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan and being a Red Sox fan:
Good writers, O'Nan says, have a "tragic and complex sense of life and empathy for the underdog. Baseball is also about patience and understanding, like writing." King adds: "Writers like baseball because it has rules but no clock. It's a game built in paragraphs which are called innings, in a season where the chapters are called games."
Friday, October 01, 2004
There *is* crying in baseball...
...for the second straight year. At least last year, we made it to the playoffs. This year, we should have, but the Cubs sort of fell apart in the last week, losing embarrassing heartbreakers to the Mets and Reds, of all people, while the Giants and the Rednecks, er, Astros, ran roughshod over their opponents. As of right now, with two games to go, we're 2 back from Houston and 1.5 back from SF, and the Giants will likely pull even with the Astros before the night is out.

A miracle could occur, but I don't really expect it. The Cubs have given up. Their attitudes are terrible, they blame the umps and the broadcasters and everyone but themselves, and they don't seem to like their jobs anymore. Even though it's technically a better team this year, they lack the cohesiveness of last year.

They're still my Cubbies though. Through thick and thin, right? It's just so hard sometimes. :(

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