Friday, January 25, 2008
You're so cold, you're so cold, you're so cold
That song from The Strokes runs through my head non-stop these days. It is stupidly cold outside. I don't mind winter in general but if the thermometer struggles just to reach zero by afternoon, I feel justified in complaining. The temperature and air pressure differential was so huge in our building yesterday that I had to brace my foot on the door frame in order to pull the door open. I was also on the downside of a migraine yesterday and I think that was the reason I couldn't warm up despite wearing every snuggly piece of clothing I own.
Anxiety dream last night: the bio department forced me to get a second job, which made me late for the first day of my TA. By the time I got to the room full of long tables where all the bio classes were being conducted simultaneously, someone else had already claimed my TA and nobody would listen to my excuses. Then, tornados started bearing down on the building, and I was the only one who thought this might be a problem.
New source of guilt in my life: playing Guitar Hero III for hours while my actual real guitar sits untouched for ages in a bedroom closet.
I am suddenly cranking out data as fast as I can get it into the sequencer. Fingers crossed that my trees have interesting genetic variations in them! I continue not to have my laptop, so analyzing the data requires me to sit at the slow, ratty old iMac with the burned-in image of cats on the monitor. Any port in a storm, I suppose. I could do the analysis at home but I'd have to bring the hardware key with me and then my labmate couldn't use it. Single-license software sucks.
Monday, January 21, 2008
I ♥ early voting
Early voting is the BEST invention. I also like the new touchscreens; writing on the screen with a funny plastic pencil reminds me of those writing tablets I used to play with as a kid. Rip off the top layer of plastic and the writing magically disappears! I remember the polling place where my parents voted in Rockford. It was someone's house, and they had a funny pole with a spinny thing on top in their front yard. This is back when voting was done behind curtains, and I wanted so much to know what went on in there but I stayed out of the way because I sensed that this was a time and place for seriousness and silence. My mom tried to explain the punch card thing to me but I misunderstood, and for years I thought voting involved punching bits of paper into tiny bins lined up behind the punch card; at the end of the day, the tiny bins were taken somewhere and the bits of paper were counted. It didn't seem like a good system to me but I figured many intelligent adults had devised the system so it must be foolproof. Little did I know!
I am not telling you who I voted for, but I will say I did a lot of research first. And, as happens so often, the candidates for whom I have such high hopes will horribly disappoint me later and I'll feel like a chump. As far as I know, however, only one person I've voted for has actually gone to jail. That's pretty good, isn't it?
I think that if we vote early, we should get a sign for our front door that says "Already voted! Go away!" so the precinct workers won't waste our time and theirs.
Finally, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:
I Have a Dream
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The Bible according to Google Earth
I'm intrigued by the Garden of Eden picture. We know that the landscape of the Middle East was over-farmed, desertified, and generally destroyed, but what was the vegetation like before people managed to mess it up? The picture suggests a northern temperate forest, which I don't think is quite right, but now I'm very curious to find out.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
It's midnight, and I need to stop wasting time on YouTube before I fall asleep on my keyboard. Before I go: Human Tetris!
For all the bio-nerds out there: the PCR song!
The dog and I have been doing battle. I think I'm winning at the moment, but the upper hand can change without warning. Foley is having some severe separation anxiety problems; when I leave her in the morning, she barks and howls and I can hear her from outside. It makes it very hard to leave, but I do have to go to work. She also messes her crate nearly every day (fun!). I was going to work on proper crate training this weekend while Mark is off in Utah, but unfortunately Foley reacted badly to his being gone. Yesterday evening she whined and howled and barked non-stop, asked to go out constantly, and refused to come back in when she was outside. I was at my wits' end and was relieved that she settled down when we went upstairs where she couldn't see the back door. I thought she'd be better today, but no, and even after a nice walk and a ride in the truck, she went right back to whining and howling when we got home. Finally, she jumped up on the back door, and that was IT. I realized that even if it had started out as "Where's Daddy?" anxiety, it had evolved into "I'm the boss of you", and I was letting her get away with it because I thought she needed to cry herself out. HA! So, over the next 10 minutes or so, I calmly but firmly demonstrated who was alpha using Mark's patented asserting dominance technique, and hallelujah, it worked. I think these few days without Daddy around might be good for my relationship with this little beastie. However, the crate training might be a bit much for her right now.
I want to take more pictures, but she doesn't photograph well indoors, and it's been so cloudy out. Reminds me, I need to buy her a collar that lights up at night; she completely vanishes in the dark!
Say what you will about city government...
but today I am very impressed. I made my annual trek to the Christmas tree recycling event at North Park Village. Not that I have a tree to recycle (we bought a new artificial one, choosing underaged Chinese labor over pesticides), but I took in a bag of cans and bottles that we've been saving up. For every tree, people could take home a bag of mulch, plus everyone got a roll of blue bags (Chicago's nearly-defunct recycling method, which we still adhere to out of habit), a weatherizing kit, and a baby spruce tree. I thought about driving back through the circuit and trading my baby spruce for a bag of mulch, but I didn't think they'd see the humor in that. Anyway, I just opened the winterizing kit, and let me tell you! Besides the nice canvas bag, they gave me enough plastic to seal 6 windows, 2 insulating door sweeps, 4 rolls of weatherstripping, a pack of outlet insulators, a roll of insulating tape, and 4 60W CFL bulbs ("Perfect for homes and restaurants!"). Everything I need to seal up my house except the nice burly man to come and install all of it for me. (I'm not trying to suggest that I, a modern, capable woman, couldn't do it myself... I just like nice burly men.)
A profitable day! Also, I am happy to report that only one of my neighbors was clueless enough to leave a plastic-wrapped Christmas tree in the alley this year. I consider that progress. They missed out on the free stuff; too bad for them.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
1) American Gladiators is back! Hooray!!
2) This must-have item, link courtesy of my husband.
3) It's the middle of January and it's 60 degrees. We had a thunderstorm yesterday. Seems to me it was in the 60s last January, too, though for an extended time. My poor Dutch irises are popping up, soon to be killed when winter returns. I may never actually see those flowers bloom.
4) The battery on my RAZR was dying so I bought a replacement, which cost as much as I paid for the phone in the first place.
5) I seem to have developed an addiction to t-shirts. It became clear when we moved everything to the new dresser and I had to get creative with the folding to get them all to fit in three drawers. So what did I do? I bought two more. It's not my fault! Target had $5 Irish-themed shirts; how could I resist??
6) And finally, the true reason for posting: dog updates!! It was a rough few days for Foley and for us. Her broken leg is weak and we don't think it was set right, so she lacks confidence when using it. Our house has lots of stairs, and she was terrified of them, both up and down, at first. It made going outside very stressful, and carrying a 68-lb. dog gets old very quickly (of course we did it for Jazz and Libby, but they earned that right). We gave her treats and pets near the stairs to reduce her fear, and she became able to go down but still not up. We started walking her up by moving her feet for her (therapeutic for her, and much easier on our backs!). She went tense and starfishy the first times, then gradually became more compliant, and by shifting her weight I could trick her into taking steps herself. Then she started going up a few steps on her own but needed help with the rest. Finally, last night, I went upstairs to report to Daddy her semi-success on the porch steps, but Foley came up a minute later to tell him herself. Yay!! (The downside is, when I let her outside in the rain this morning, she came right back up the porch steps. I am a victim of my own success.)
It may not seem like much but in one week she's gone through a remarkable transformation. We still have things to work on, but her progress is very encouraging. She's such a love, wonderful to cuddle, sleek and sturdy like a seal. She's a very messy eater (crumbs less than 1/2 inch are beneath her notice), she doesn't like barbecue or chips, fears thunderstorms and Airedales, and like most greyhounds believes that all soft things belong to her. At this rate, I think we will be able to sign MGA's papers with confidence.
Friday, January 04, 2008
Back in the groove
I am SO GLAD to be back in the lab. I've been busying myself with miscellaneous things because my poor little laptop is in the laptop hospital. Since I am unable to check blogs every ten minutes, I have been forced to: clean my desk, sort journal articles into folders, purchase and fill in a monthly planner, make list of Things To Do This Semester, sweep the floor, and read a few chapters from my plant systematics book. Next week I have Big Plans to copy articles from some books so I can return them.
Lab work is going okay so far. I'm concentrating on a single chloroplast marker, and next week I'll sequence and find out if my designed primers work. One task at a time, but wow, I am so far behind schedule, it's just not even funny.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Baby New Year
This is Foley. She joined our family on New Years morning, a new year, new start, new pup. We're "fostering with intent", meaning if she has some uncorrectable behavioral clash with our household the agency will take her back. But look at that face!! How could we ever give that up? She's a very lovey girl, as soft as a bunny, and loves the snow.
Infinite thanks and highest respect to everyone at Midwest Greyhound Adoption, who go above and beyond to make sure their dogs get the best of care and end up with the right homes. I wish the people who see nothing wrong with dog racing could visit the kennel and observe the melty brown eyes and full-leg casts in every cage. We wanted to take several of them home (very sly of MGA!) but one is enough, for now.