Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Ball is Rolling

I got a draft of my thesis back from my boss with some revisions to make, and I am getting those done this weekend. I will hand it out to my committee on Monday. Meanwhile, I have scheduled my defense for Friday, May 19 at 10 am and have gotten about 1/10 of the necessary paperwork done for that but am moving forward on the rest of it. My Studly Hubby has officially taken a week off in June so we can go look for apts in Seattle, so we are now being forced to think about what exactly we want (do we want a dog? Do we want to pay a bunch more for an extra bedroom? Do we want to move a little further away from campus? Do we want a short-term lease so we can think about dumping money into a house (starter homes start at about $300,000 there)? So many possibilities!).


My two brothers that were looking for colleges have officially decided where they want to go - one is going to Knox College in Galesberg IL (about 1000 students total) and the other is going to Kansas University in Lawrence KS. Can you get much more diverse brothers? Of course they're only related to me and not to each other (figure that one out) so I guess it makes sense that they are so different.

My Studly Hubby is off galavanting around in Iowa this weekend escorting some other chick down the aisle as a groomsman, I'm not sure if that's weird but I guess it's ok as long as she doesn't try to make out with him. I kindly opted out since I have so much to do here, and then ended up spending most of the day today watching movies but I think that's what I really needed. In fact, I feel another movie urge coming on with maybe some popcorn, and... here I go!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Honing my Acting Skillz

My Studly Hubby is working on another animation. The current shot he's working on involves animating two people in a scene, so he required my assistance for making a reference video. There are several problems with that. First, I don't behave well generally, but especially when asked to behave a specific way. Second, I am not a good actor and can't remember my lines even after 8 million practices. Third, I don't know where the "Stop Recording" button is on the camera so when the scene is over and I walk over to the camera laughing and making faces there's usually that and another minute more while I scramble to find the right button at the end of every take. Despite all this, however, I think we finally got some good video and now he's clipping it all together to upload onto his school site so everyone can gawk at me and pass judgement (or gas) at my attempt to act.

A Gem in the Rocks


I was going back through some old emails (FYI I have thousands of old emails - I keep everything that may be important) looking for an important work-related Excel file, when I found something even better... THIS picture of Wonder Woman, sent to me by My Naked Coworker for whatever reason. Pretty good huh?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Farts

Whenever I'm at work, and I make a farting noise (like with my rubber gloves or with my chair) I loudly clarify that it was indeed my glove or my chair just so those people around me don't think it was a fart. I usually say, right after the farting noise was made, "that was my glove!" It's quickly catching on, so that now other people at work also do this, although not with the same loyal consistency I have developed.

But here is my question: if I actually fart, then should I loudly clarify, "that was my butt!"? Or do I lie and say "that was my glove!" or say nothing at all which is as good as saying "that was my butt!"
I am in the throes of scheduling my thesis defense, which can be quite a daunting task. It may get pushed back to June due to a troublesome committee chair who claims to be out of town most of May. He's good friends with my boss, however, and my boss wants me to graduate in May now due to something-or-other, so I'm thinking they'll get it worked out, especially if I complain loudly enough which I'm very willing to do. Both my boss and my committee chair seem to like me enough to help me out with this graduation thing, although I can't imagine why since I insult both of them every chance I get. I hope my new boss is tolerant of that sort of thing, and a Democrat. I'm not sure what it would be like working for a Republican but it can't be good.

So during my break from thesis-writing, I've attacked the stack of graduation paperwork full-on. This stuff is tough, man. I was starting to wonder today whether part of getting the PhD is figuring out how to fill out all the forms. They offer no directions for filling them out, forgot at least two on their "Master Checklist" (leading me to wonder how important they really are) and often neglect to tell you where to turn them in or even whether you need to turn them in. I'm pretty sure I'm going to screw this up since I'm notorious for screwing things like this up (although I didn't screw up the taxes this year so things are looking up!). Fortunately our graduate program has a pretty sharp office manager who can usually figure out what's going on. I personally wrote one of the recommendations that recently won her a sweet cash award so hopefully I will get some special treatment too. Just in case, though, I scheduled in some serious brown-nosing time today and I think it was effective because I already got help from her with one of the forms. Maybe I outta try some of that brown-nosing to get my committee chair to agree to a May defense... I hear cookies can be helpful...

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Almighty Minnesota Massage

I convinced myself today to go over to my trusty Langford Chiropractic Clinic and get a massage, I got the first available opening but it was with a fantastic woman with very strong hands. I almost passed out during the massage and went into shock afterwards and hardly made it home. They should probably order taxi cabs for post-massage junkies like me. She demanded that I come back next week because I'm such a mess and I think I will, especially because when my mom heard about me going into shock she insisted she pay for a second by way of a birthday present. I tend to do my massages in groups of two - for my shoulder about a year and a half ago, and for my hip this winter. In all cases, the second massage was when I really hit the jackpot - both my shoulder and my hip improved impressively after the second (with almost no improvement after the first). This was only the second massage I've ever had that wasn't about an injury and was instead all about RELAXING, something I'm not very good at.

Now I will go and try to RELAX some more.

DONE!

I finished the thesis on Friday in a flurry of flying papers and handed the whole 137-page-long thing with a Table of Contents and Abstract and everything over to my boss right before he left at 5:15. He has to look it over, then give it back to me for revisions, then I schedule my defense and hand it out to my committee to read. After my defense, I make changes according to my committee's suggestions, then make a bunch of copies and hand it in to the Graduate School (and my boss, and both of my parents who hopefully can understand something in it, and one copy for me) and pick up my Ph.D. Since May is already coming up this week, my boss wasn't sure if we could get all that done by the end of May, but I'm still hopeful.

I was so sick of looking at my computer by the end of the day Friday that I couldn't bring myself to even blog all weekend, although I did get on for five minutes on Sat and five minutes on Sun to delete all the dozens of junkmail messages I get every weekend. I'm in serious recovery mode now and hoping to get over my computer aversion soon.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Almost.... THERE!

I told my boss today that I was ALMOST done with my thesis, I only have one more section to write (the Discussion section). He laughed at me, stomping out my confidence in getting the thesis done by this weekend. But! I got 1/3 of the Discussion done yesterday, and I still have hope for a weekend of freedom. Tonight and tomorrow may be brutal though. Fortunately I have some Girl Scout Cookies (thin mints!) to get me through.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

How the Martians Make Cars

I went to an awards ceremony today for the big award I got through my department, and the sponsor of the award himself showed up to give it to me (and two others from the U of M - other departments). He was very old, and very humorous, and told a funny story about the Martians. This is his story, as well as I can remember it:

Some astronauts landed on Mars, and met some Martians. The Martians gave them a tour and showed them where they worked and ate and how they lived. Then the Martians showed the astronauts the factory where Martians are made. "Wow!" the astronauts said, "That's not at all how people are made!" The Martians said "Oh? How are people made?" and the astronauts explained it to the Martians. The Martians jumped back in surprise and said "My oh my! That's how we make cars!"

His point was something like this: NEVER simply believe in something just because everyone else believes it, you should question authority and question long-held beliefs and assumptions and especially question anyone with a strong opinion about anything.

I really liked this guy, and I'm glad I got the award so I could meet him.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Minnesota Gophers!

There is a rumor here at the University of Minnesota that we're called the Gophers because we like to tunnel (and indeed we do, in the winter a student here can get to about half the campus through underground tunnels). Recently, as I was loyally relaying that rumor to a faculty candidate, it was questioned. We immediately looked it up, and found that in fact we are called the Gophers because of a political cartoon that was widely circulated in 1858. This was during a state-wide debate about funding railroads, and in the cartoon the railroad tycoons were depicted as nine gophers with human heads pulling a Gopher Train. Thus we became the Gopher state. Interestingly, the gophers depicted in the cartoon were in fact "striped gophers" or more accurately thirteen-lined ground squirrels.

So tunneling may have had nothing to do with it, but it is kind of a funny coincidence that we are the Gophers, and gophers do like to tunnel.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Explosexuawesome Career Guide


A friend of mine from Iowa City published a book this month called The Explosexuawesome Career Guide, through the publishers of the Far Side books. The book description on Amazon describes it well so I'll just put that here:

Yes, there are actual people who are paid to blow up yachts, taste ice cream, and stand around nightclubs looking cool. How does one go about landing such jobs? What are the qualifications? And more important, how much does one get paid? These questions and many more are hilariously answered in Mose Hayward's The Explosexuawesome Career Guide.

Exposing all the cool careers your guidance counselor never mentioned, The Explosexuawesome Career Guide is a perfect (and totally necessary) gift for all recent graduates. Weird, bizarre, and unusual but totally awesome jobs are out there for the taking. Author Hayward has sought out holders of these most outlandish, one-in-a-million jobs, and interviewed them to discover crucial information, such as how they got hired and what they do all day.

With Hayward's insightful interviews, the reader gets hilarious step-by-step instructions on how they, too, can achieve these cool-yet-odd positions. Each career is illustrated by the comic art of Chris Stangl. This outlandish parody of career guidebooks is sure to entertain, whether or not you're in the market for a new career.

You can check out Mose's website here, where he admits to having the same nightmares about missing PE class that my Studly Hubby and I have - we intend to sue our high school for causing severe and life-long PE anxiety.

I've bought the book and it is indeed explosexuawesome.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Scary Movie 4 Review

Well, I'm not sure what to say about this one. It was both fantastic and horrible at the same time. It also was definitely not as good as Scary Movie 3 (and Scary Movie 3 was, actually, good, or at least I thought it was). We don't go to many movies, and I'm not sure why we picked this one - probably because it was my birthday week and I hold a long-standing love for Naked Gun and Leslie Nielson, but we made the most of it. The theater was full of loud entertaining 14-year olds, and as a precaution, a theater usher came in before the show and reminded everyone to be quiet - they responded by yelling at him that he sucked. They were actually pretty quiet during the show, though, so they must have liked it.

I guess I would recommend renting Scary Movie 4, if you're into that sort of thing, and not actually going to the theater so you can avoid all the 14-year olds and allow yourself the option of turning it off if it's not your thing. It may not be your thing.

Tornado in Iowa City - Part 2

Now that I've tracked down all my Iowa City friends and family, heard some stories, seen some pictures (and more pictures), I feel qualified to give a more detailed report on the tornadoes.

My friend who works downtown writes:
Eastern Iowa was hit by 17 tornadoes yesterday. It's pretty breathtaking. Houses with roofs blown off and walls missing. Cars overturned in the road and in ditches. Massive trees taken down and uprooted. And all this happened within a half mile from [downtown]. The Dairy Queen on Riverside - the really old one by the river that you could walk up to was completely destroyed. St. Patrick's church downtown (near the post office) had the roof torn off. The front of the rec center was ripped off. The Happy Joes that [our friend] was working at for a while was crushed. The power has been down since 8:30 last night and won't be back until tonight.

He went on to say that stores are throwing out large amounts of perishable product due to the electrical outage but that nearby Cedar Rapids is ok (except for some hail) and everyone he knows in Iowa City is ok - miraculously.

My mom works near downtown and walked around a bit. She said it's unbelievable. The city has come together to express unanimous shock at the mess that was left behind. The media is reporting on the major scenes: the church, the sorority, Happy Joes, but what they haven't mentioned is the destruction in the residential areas - the tornadoe apparently took out some houses along Rochester and down Iowa Ave (bottom picture, at left), she wasn't sure how far the damage went due to the difficulty driving. The gawkers had both road and pedestrian traffic backed up considerably.

I wish everyone luck cleaning up the mess and rebuilding, I really wish I could be there to help (and do some gawking).

Some great photos can be found through a University of Iowa News Release, and at the Daily Iowan and Press Citizen websites (including a spectacular video through the Press Citizen).

Friday, April 14, 2006

Tornado in Iowa City!

A tornado hit downtown Iowa City last night! It looks like it cruised down Burlington St, turned left on Riverside, took out a Dairy Queen on its way to Menards and left some roofless houses, businesses and a sorority in its wake. Then the gawkers and (beer) looters came out and had a heyday, with the National Guard and plenty of police getting in there to try to keep it under control. Both my and my Studly Hubby's families and workplaces are ok.

My high school was a shelter! Imagine that! And the U of Iowa classes were cancelled (now you know it was bad)!

Check it out on the national news, local news and the U of I Daily Iowan (paper).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I'm the lucky birthday girl

I'm the lucky birthday girl! I'm getting three days of birthday goodness. The first day, I got sushi and a stroll around Lake Calhoun (see full description, below). The second day, my birthday, I got loads of loot, including a kicking new jean skirt to wear with my stellar green alligator boots, and a belt to wear with the skirt that matches the boots. I also got a super-sweet home-cooked dinner and all the Girl Scout cookies a girl could ever dream of. The third day turned into another awesome beautiful spring weather kind of day (we get those sometimes in April) and I think we may be heading out to Dairy Queen to finish off my 3-day Birthday Bash with another nice-weather stroll and a crunch cone.

When it comes to birthdays, I vote that you take as many days as you can and turn them all into birthdays.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Jaunt around Lake Calhoun

The thing to do in Minneapolis when it gets nice out is go to Lake Calhoun and take the 5K jaunt around the lake. If you have a very fussy dog, all the better. If you can strap your dog into a handbag or backpack, even more perfect. And if you want to take off your shirt and put on some expensive sunglasses and get out your rollerblades and talk on your cell phone and show off the tan you obviously didn't get in Minnesota, then you'll fit right in.

That's exactly what we did last night, and it was fantastic. We bought some sushi at the fancy grocery store down the way and had some at the dock, then oggled at the dogs and the tans and the sunglasses and the people, oh the people, that were there at the lake. We weren't even slowed down by the tragic homocide that took place there two weeks ago (although we did clear out by dark).

What fun is spring!

J & D's best of Netflix... for now

My Studly Hubby and I want to share with you all our love for Netflix, which we decided to stick with despite their lying cheating ways. They provide us with movies we would never rent otherwise, that we have loved and loved, such as:

Newleyweds, all of them
Buffy, all of them (although we're only on season five, so I'm having faith the rest is good)
Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Grizzly Man, documentary about the crazy man who lived with the bears
DiG, documentary about a crazy band that's actually very good
Okee Noodling, documentary about some crazy dudes who go fishing with their hands
The Iron Giant, movie by the same dude that did the Incredibles
Crumb, documentary about the eccentric Robert Crumb

Sunday, April 09, 2006

More Iowa Adventures

We just got back from (another) short but crazy-packed trip to Iowa. This time it was a bit sadder, it was for a funeral, but we got to see a lot of family that I don't normally see which was nice. My Studly Hubby and I both looked snappy in our suits and I got to ride around in my mom's new VW Jetta which is pretty fun (the dashboard is lit with pink and purple) and we got back in time so I can still teach my class at the Y this morning. It was the funeral of my mom's dad, so I was worried she would take it pretty hard, but she stayed functional and didn't get into any car accidents which is always a plus. She still cried a bunch, especially when we sang the song about the Little Brown Church in the Vale (which is in her and her dad's hometown, where the funeral was). We had to sing that song twice, and both times was a bit of a tear-jerker.

You get a lot of big bunches of flowers at a funeral and it's very hard to figure out what to do with all of them afterwards, especially when you're not really thinking clearly. We finally put most of them on the freshly covered grave, and a few people took some home, including us. We got a beautiful bouquet in a wood basket that I plan to keep and use later. Maybe I'll someday plant something in it! Or maybe I'll just fill it up with green styrofoam.

Queens Rule, Kings Drool

My Studly Hubby told me last night he wants to buy a Super-King sized bed, because I was hogging all the space (but he was hogging all the covers). I personally think that Queen-sized beds (like the one we've got) are much better. If you have a King or Super-King, you have to yell at each other across the bed because it's so huge.

Queens are the best. Kings suck.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The new toothbrush

My Studly Hubby and I acquired a new Oral B electric toothbrush through a sweet deal associated with the dental training grant that's funding me for some reason. The dental grant can't give us free dental coverage, but a toothbrush they can swing. Anyhow, when the toothbrush arrived a few days ago we opened the box excitedly and then balked at the sheer number of things that came with it. A cord, a base, a few brush heads, some little colored ring thingies to put on the heads, a case for the heads, and a two-inch thick instruction manual. My husband, who according to O! The Oprah Magazine (yes I read this and I love it) is a Quick-Start personality, plugged the whole thing in last night and figured out where the colored ring thingies go and how to turn it on. This morning, we tried using it. He had not too much trouble, but when I used it total chaos broke out. I got toothpaste all over the bathroom, and in my hair, I swear I chipped a few teeth, and my neck got cramped from bracing against the thing (so I started yelling as all this was going on). I think I need to try using it again tonight, but I'm scared. I am trying to get motivated by reminding myself that the toothbrush can encourage me in 13 different languages, but my old toothbrush from a much simpler time calls to me instead.

We'll see where the night leads me.

Nutritional Yeast

This is the best thing around, especially if you're nutritionally deprived from, say, a night of hard drinking (not that I'm like that, or have ever experienced that, gosh). Nutritional yeast is basically vitamin B packed yellow flakes of something that you can sprinkle on your popcorn or toast or just throw in your mouth and it's flavorful and yummy and good for you too. More typically, however, it freaks everyone out, but the few enlightened individuals like me that had the guts to try it naturally became completely addicted.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Birthdays

I rarely remember my friends birthdays (or anyone's at all, including my own). When I do remember my friend's birthdays, I send the most shocking card I can find or make (and they do the same for us, for my Studly Hubby's B-day in Jan a card we got had a pic on the front of our friend's kid covered from head to toe in spaghetti and screaming at the camera... but that's tame by our standards). Anyhow, this year some friends of mine that are married are living with their wife's parents while she does a little adjunct teaching deal nearby. So I'm wondering, how shocking can I make this card we send to the guy this year? If I make it so shocking that he can't show his wife's parents, and they're sitting right there asking to see it, will that make the whole situation awkward, and escalate to him getting kicked out and a divorce eventually occurring (all because of my card we so innocently sent)?

My Studly Hubby assures me that, considering the guy we're talking about here (who will fart in front of anyone, at any time, and always has a dirty joke ready to go on a moment's notice) probably has already shocked his wife's parents plenty. So I'm thinking I'm gonna take that risk and send him the card anyway and make it as bad as I can because it'll probably be another three or four years before I remember his birthday again anyway... so here goes! I'll let you know how it turns out.

Here's to Sunday...

We got caught up on the household stuff finally, my Studly Hubby is doing some Studly Dishwashing as we speak, he always steps in to help on Sundays after he gets his assignment turned in. yay! Now I can sit back and do some blogging and laze around while he slaves away cleaning up the kitchen.

We've become addicted to this Neopolitan style pizza place across the Mississippi in a little neighborhood called Highland Park. The pizza is so good that you crave more even after you stuff your face until you feel sick from it, which is exactly what we did for lunch today.

It sucks on the first day of Daylight Savings because you wake up and have already missed out on an hour of Sunday fun. It too bad it doesn't happen on a Monday... and we got to work one hour less because of it... that would be awesome. Mondays are awful, there's nothing you can do to make them better except call in sick but then Tuesdays suck. Actually there is one thing that makes Monday suck less - work straight though the weekend , but that sucks for an entirely different reason.

Here's to Sunday! Except my champaigne glass I'm toasting you with just has water in it because you can't buy alcohol here on Sundays.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Springing Forward

Hopefully all y'all (Texas plural) remembered to set your clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time (or at least, those of you whom this applies to). If you are having trouble with this, pay this guy (Evan Kelso) to do it for you, for $10 (although he may also make you pay for his plane flight, he lives in Indiana).

Dairy Queen, we're back!!

Today was a day to be remembered: the first day of the Dairy Queen season. That's right, Dairy Queen is OPEN, and it was finally nice enough outside to walk there (and we saw some sun, too!). I got a small vanilla crunch cone and was so excited I inhaled a crunch and almost died. Luckily I know CPR and could perform it if necessary, although performing it on myself would be a trick. One may gain some fame for figuring that out.

Speaking of CPR, if you're ever in a situation where someone is passed out and you don't know what to do but there's a defribillator (AED) nearby, turn it on and press the "?" button and it'll instruct you in each step of CPR. With these kinds of things, who needs a Red Cross certification? Just make sure that the passed out person actually needs CPR (ex. the heart has stopped beating) otherwise they'll be pretty angry when they wake up to you punching them repeatedly in the chest. Maybe THAT's why we get the Red Cross certification, so we know all those important little details.

So besides going to Dairy Queen today, I played catch-up... laundry, dishes, talking to my mommy on the phone (while doing laundry and dishes, grad school has taught me the useful art of multi-tasking). There's so much to do that tomorrow will be more of the same I'm afraid. It feels good to finally get to it though. We were about to turn over to paper plates, and I think my Studly Hubby may have gone a few days without underwear last week.

Speaking of my Studly Hubby, he finished his third class this week and is launching into the fourth. Halfway there! He's really starting to make some nice stuff, too. Next class he is going to work on facial animations, so he will be contorting his face at me all the time whenever we are talking. It'll be weird but I've gotten used to him contorting his body and acting out his scenes in public places so I suppose this will just be another form of that.

And for one final announcement: I have begun work on my thesis, and boy, is it a lot easier than that horrible grant. I feel like a genius working on this thesis in comparison. In fact, I wrote an entire chapter in under an hour on Friday. This is how I did it so fast, for those of you who may have to write a thesis sometime (you never know)... 1. write a paper (bonus, get it published!) 2. keep the MS Word document of the paper (this is important) and then 3. copy all that stuff from the MS Word document over into another document that says THESIS. It works pretty swell. The problem is, I still have to move some things around some, the figures in particular, and one of my three chapters has some experiments missing that I intend to do next week (and therefore the paper hasn't been written yet, so that chapter will take a little longer to put together). But! The important thing is, I'm moving along on that thesis and may even graduate someday! And that will deserve another crunch cone.