Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Grown-Up Things

I'm caught in the middle of a flurry of unfamiliar grown-up things; as I switch over from a student to a temporary post-doc (staff) position for the next few months I am faced with a strange new mix of paperwork and decisions that are associated with a real full-time job - something I've never had before. I have to make health insurance decisions (I choose a plan? what?) and figure out my retirement benefits, keep track of my vacation and sick leave, which was nonexistant before, I will have to pay out to various things like Medicare and Social Security now, and I no longer get student discounts at movie theaters or other perks associated with being a student. I may kind of miss that good old "student status!".... but maybe not.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Home Again

We had a wonderful Weekend in Iowa including a good show over at the boarding school Scattergood (where one of my brothers is a day student, his graduation was this weekend), a Tornado Tour, some house shopping for my mom and some major house cleaning also for my mom. The Studly Hubby also got a Car Renovation with the help of both his mom and dad and there were parties to go to left and right. We are both exhausted and about to settle in for Dinner and a Movie and I will have to defer more detailed blogging for later. Thanks to all who have written, called, come to one or the other of my parties (yes there were two, all the celebration wouldn't have fit into one), or sent their general thoughts my way. I really appreciated all the enthusiasm and support!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend

As I continue to recover from The Big Thesis Defense, I have incorporated a little vacation to Iowa for Memorial Day weekend. It should be fun, but there are lots of changes happening right now...

1. My car is being inherited by my brother.

2. My mom is looking to buy a new house, and selling the farm where I spent most of my childhood.

3. My brother (same one with the car, he lives with my mom) has a friend moving in for the summer so there has been an addition to the family crowd and someone to do battle with over the extra bedroom.

4. My horse is going to be sold or given away - we will be hunting for a good home for him starting this weekend.

In addition to all that, my dad is looking to sell his house too (why do you and my mom always act in parallel?!) and we are flying out to Seattle in two weeks to look for apartments...! Only two months until the big cross-country move.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hail Peppermint Ice Cream!

A friend re-gifted a box of assorted mint chocolates to me for my graduation present (and for some reason was honest that it was re-gifted, but I certainly don't mind). All the minty goodness reminded me of my favorite treat when I was growing up: peppermint ice cream! We used to get it at the Great Midwestern in Iowa City (which is no more, I'm afraid, it has turned into the fancy 326 restaraunt). It had chunks of peppermint candy in it which made it even more excellent - I think they actually called it Peppermint Stick Ice Cream. When I would go there with my mom or dad I would pretend I was interested in some other kind of ice cream, and even sometimes try other ones, but I would always eventually decide to get the peppermint stick ice cream flavor (in a cup, I'm a bit of a slob).

The Signature Cafe

After my Big Thesis Defense on Friday my Studly wanted to take me to a fancy place for dinner. We hemmed and hawed for a while about where to go - it's surprisingly hard to find a good fancy restaraunt, probably because we don't go to fancy restaraunts very often. We finally settled on the Signature Cafe in the Prospect Park neighborhood (my old neighborhood, only a hop away). This is a restaraunt on a side street in an otherwise 100% residential and very old neighborhood, so it's a bit tucked away, but it happens to be on the route to my friend's place who lives in the same neighborhood so we pass by it often (but wouldn't otherwise). I figured, a place like that has to be good otherwise nobody would ever think to go there.

It certainly was good. The atmosphere was very quiet and private, the service was great, and the food was totally fantastic. I had the ribs and my husband had the crabcakes (about $25 per entree). I just about died with each bite due to taste-bud sensory overload. You could tell they used good-quality ingredients and took their time cooking it to perfection, and the flavor was really delicious. The serving size wasn't obnoxiously small or large, either. This is definitely a place I would recommend.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

One Happy Dr!

This is me after I got back from passing my thesis defense. Even though I knew I would pass, I think I was still a little surprised, or maybe I was just surprised that it was all over all of a sudden. In my hands in the picture you can see the Very Important Form that has all the necessary signatures for me to get my PhD, and I walked that form over to the Graduate School almost immediately after this picture was taken for fear of it getting lost (which according to urban legend has happened to a few unfortunate graduate students).

Now I have also turned my thesis into the Graduate School along with the rest of my forms and am officially Done With It, so that I can take the day off tomorrow and rest. I am having some friends over for lunch (oddly I'm not the only one that happens to be home tomorrow) and I also plan to clean out my car, which I am giving to my brother this weekend (good-bye car, you will be missed!). Hopefully in between there will be some time for sitting around and drooling all over myself.

1 Year Anniversary

Sometme in May last year I started this blog... and here I am, still posting! Wheee!

Happy one year anniversary everybody.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Da Vinci Code - Review

We saw the Da Vinci Code Saturday night, and I thought I'd comment. I read the book recently, and was very happy they had taken it up for a movie as it's a great book. Unfortunately that means that I'm going to have to compare the two, and will have that bias, but I'll try my best to be objective.
The acting was very good in my opinion (although some critics would disagree). I actually thought Tom Hanks and Audrey Toutou were great in their parts, Ian McKellen (otherwise known as Gandalf) was terrific and so was Paul Bettany (who played Silus, and advertised on Jay Leno that he scared Tom Hanks so badly during the first scene take that he farted, and he may have scared me that badly too). They kept the movie fairly fast-paced and went ahead with most of the controversial themes (that the Christian church had suppressed women and that Jesus had a wife and kid) although they gave little emphasis to one of the main themes in the book which was that the Christian leaders had rewritten the Bible (essentially rewrote history) to their advantage (resulting in empowerment of certain people in charge and subordination of women). This was ok with me, but what really got me seething were a few of the minor changes they made so that the main female lead, Sophie, was weak (vs. her character in the book), vulnerable and needed to be assisted or 'saved' by the male lead, Robert Langdon. For example, in the book it was Sophie who in fact cracked most of the codes whereas in the movie Robert Langdon did the cracking (although Sophie was clearly more qualified, being a professional code-cracker and close to the code-maker). I believe they did this to make the movie more in line with Hollywood's movie-selling agenda: make the man the hero and have him save the girl. Too bad, not only did it not really make sense but it contradicted the point of the movie. This seriously decreased my enjoyment, although I can understand their logic. If they had made the point that women can be heros AND made the woman a hero it may have been too much.

Kudos!


Kudos to my friend Speedy KT who qualified for the Boston Marathon on Saturday! Congrats KT, we all knew you could do it and we don't even mind hearing some of your wild - and gross - stories from the Fargo marathon. You gotta do what you gotta do to get 3:39:57!!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I Passed!

The defense went well on Friday and I managed to pass, and even had a very nice introduction by my boss, who appreciated our Google Bomb. The lab held a party for me afterwards, and I got my appropriate paperwork turned into the graduate school then went home to relax for a few hours before my Studly Hubby took me out to a Fabulous Dinner at the Signature Cafe in Prospect Park.

I'm ALMOST Dr. now, I still have to turn in my final thesis, and the paperwork doesn't get put through until May 31. So on June 1, you can all call me Dr.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Final Preparations

I am down to my last 24 hours of preparations for my Big Final Thesis Defense, which is tomorrow at 10 am. I have prepared a talk and practiced it once, I have created some visual effects for the announcement of our Google Bomb, I have put in my two cents worth on how the after-party should be carried out, I got my hair cut, my teeth cleaned, my computer hard drive cleaned up, my two laser pointers are ready to go and the paperwork is in an envelope in my backpack. Although there are still a few more things to do this afternoon, including another practice talk and some big decisions to make (what food should I provide for the masses that come to my talk? what should I wear? just how many pictures of my husband and horse can I put in at the end without it becoming obnoxious?), I think I'm almost there. What a weird feeling.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Toothache

I went in to the dentist for my regular once-every-two-year cleaning. It came at a good time because my tooth had just recently started aching a bit and so I had them check it. My teeth are generally pretty healthy (only 1.5 cavities so far, despite my infrequent dental checkups and not-so-diligent brushing habits - I think it's because I make loads of saliva. My husband does too, so we have very spitty kisses). Neither the hygenist nor the dentist could spot anything wrong with my achey tooth but in the process of looking all my other teeth started aching a bit too. So my dentist went and got what looked like a hammer and started banging on all my teeth to "check for fractures" but I think he was just getting a kick out of the process. Eventually he grew tired of it and told me I was probably stressed out and grinding my teeth at night. Then they asked me if I had been stressed out lately and I told them that last week I wrecked an entire day trying to get antibiotics from my doctor for that very dental appointment (I have a heart condition) and that had totally stressed me out. They nodded sympathetically and decided that's probably why my teeth hurt. They also prescribed me with some fluoride toothpaste and mouthrinse to strengthen up my teeth and recommended in the future I reduce my doctor-associated stress, which I am starting to believe is impossible.

And just for a note to all you hot yoga non-believers (you know who you are), the dentist thought hot yoga was a great way to loosen up the jaw muscles and prevent the tooth grinding at night. Kudos to hot yoga!

Haircut

So I went to the hair salon, after a few adventures trying to remember where it is (even when it's "just down the street" it's always good to double check the address before you leave). I gave them my perverted pic of Jennifer Love Hewitt in her lingerie as a hair example, and they cut my hair almost exactly like it. Only, I forget that I don't look exactly like Jennifer Love Hewitt nor do I have daily access to her hair stylist. So it doesn't quite look the same. But, it looks ok. And, my Studly Hubby likes it. He's the one that has to look at me all the time so that's probably good enough.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Jennifer Love Hewitt and Lingerie

I am going to go get my hair cut tonight. Whenever I get my hair cut and I don't know quite what I want, I look through magazines and sometimes cut a good picture out to take in to my hair dresser. The picture I found that I liked this time around was Jennifer Love Hewitt, in her new role as a model for Hanes underwear. So the picture is of Jennifer Love Hewitt in her lingerie, and it seems a bit inappropriate to take in to the salon. The picture on the left is a variation of the theme, with hair that is not quite what I was going for but more appropriate attire, and this picture would definitely be better for taking into the salon. Or, I could take the good picture I have at home and simply cut her head out of it. Maybe I should glue her cut-out head onto a stick and take it in like that, then they'll really think I'm weird... but at least not a weird pervert.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Top-to-Bottom Cleaning

The results of a three-month-long run of constant deadlines for both my Studly Hubby and myself is that the hygeine of our apartment takes a huge hit. Now that I have a break, I'm in the midst of a thorough top-to-bottom apartment cleaning in anticipation of:
- my Big Graduation Celebration, including a much-anticipated backyard BBQ at our place!
- a visit from my mom and brother, as part of the Big Graduation Celebration
- our eventual move, which will require some amount of cleaning anyway
- potential apt showings by our landlord, coming up quick (not as important but since I'm cleaning anyway...)

An accumulation of cleaning experiences throughout my life, including the one I am embarking on this weekend, has taught me a few things. I have learned:
- I hate cleaning
- cleaning really blows
- no matter how much is cleaned, there is always more

I have also thought of a few things that may help:
- hire a cleaner or hypnotize your friends and get them to do it
- don't look behind the refrigerator while cleaning, or ever
- a gas mask, rubber suit and heavy machinery can really help get the job done quickly and safely

I am really hoping that this is my last top-to-bottom cleaning while we are living in this apartment and that all the work I have done this weekend will somehow manage to last until the end of the week when everyone is coming over. We may have to move into a hotel for a few weeks to help facilitate those wishes, but that would be ok. At least then I wouldn't have to clean.

Google Bomb Victory

Our Google Bomb has worked! If you do a search on Google for "super awesome PhD advisor" my advisor's website is the first that comes up.

Yippeee!!

Just in time for my thesis defense on Friday, where I will demonstrate the results of our carefully executed plan to my committee members, my colleagues, my department, and my super awesome PhD advisor himself.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Another Spears Baby

Brittany Spears has announced she's pregnant again - the "baby bump" rumors are true. Excuse the pun, but you have to wonder, did she ever think, "oops! I did it again!"?

This reminds me of something I once read regarding natural selection. Remember, natural selection was Darwin's finding that the traits that enhance survival are naturally selected for, whereas traits that don't enhance survival are lost. It's very unfortunate, but in today's world, natural selection of humans is continuing but in an unexpected way. Educated, career-driven and environmentally aware women are having fewer babies. Uneducated "trailor-trashy" women are having lots of babies, as many as they can. Therefore trailor trash is mulitiplying rapidly while educated populations are diminishing.

We are selecting for trailer trash.

Go Brittany Go!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Links Updates

I finally updated my links! Yippee!!

Here's a summary:

My super awesome PhD advisor is now on my links list. Go there every day to help us with our blog bomb. The more people that follow that link the better.

I have two friends named KT. They are both on the links list now. They are both girls; Uncle KT is the one that frequently posts comments here. Uncle KT started a blog for the purpose of the Google Bomb, but has now taken it to a whole new level. Speedy KT is a running superstar.

Peggy in Scotland also frequently posts comments here, and I have become addicted to her blog. This is the second blog I have become addicted to that is by a person I don't know (well, I actually have met her and there's a picture floating around that proves it but I don't in fact remember her very well so I don't count it). The other blog I am addicted to that is by a person I don't know is Aja the Upbeat AM Student's blog, a classmate of my Studly Hubby's.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Lilacs


One of the things I really love about spring is the lilacs. They are coming into full bloom here in Minnesota and there are millions of them in our neighborhood, so that for about a week every May it smells like lilacs everywhere you go, even when you're just in the alley dropping off the garbage. We even have some right by our bedroom window and if I venture to open the window and it's slightly breezy sometimes I can smell them in our apartment. You have to act fast though, they stick around only long enough for you to get a feeling for how great they are and then they're gone until next year!

Lilacs taste good, too. Don't ask me how I know this. Gilatto (a delectable frozen dessert, we have a store here in Minneapolis) has a 'lilac' flavored ice cream but it's not quite as strong as I'd like, although it's good.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Celebration Plans

As the Big Thesis Defense and Graduation loom nearer, and I can put some distance between now and The Big Stressful Spring I just dealt with, I feel ready to start making plans for The Big Graduation Celebration that is in order for the weekend after my graduation (which is May 19). My mom is thinking about coming up to celebrate with me, and just now I had the bright (or not-so-bright) idea of having a backyard BBQ afterwards to celebrate, although our yard isn't too terribly huge and neither is our apt so I'm still working out the details. The weekend after is Memorial Day weekend, and we already have plans to head back home to do some more celebrating with one of my little brothers, who is graduating from high school that weekend (two of my brothers are graduating high school this year). I feel a little burned out on Planning Things, so I'm trying to keep things simple but I think some sort of celebration would help make things official and important. Plus, I love spring BBQs.

Beer and brats and chips, yum! I love spring.

The Google Bomb Bombed

If you do a Google search for "Super Awesome PhD Advisor," what comes up at the top is MY BLOG. Gah!

Maybe eventually with enough links we'll get it to point instead to my advisor's website.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Google Bomb in Action

For my thesis defense, I want to say, "If you look up "Super Awesome PhD Advisor" on Google, my boss will be at the top" so I am going to put this google bomb (see below) into effect starting right here, right now. To help me out, go to the link a few times, or better yet, create the same link on your own blog.

My boss, the Super Awesome PhD Advisor, is going to love it.

The Google Bomb

The Google Bomb, according to Wickipedia, is a certain attempt to influence the page rankings that come up on Google through linking certain words to specific websites (some think that "Google Bomb" should more appropriately be called "Link Bomb").

Here's how it works: Google's search algorithm takes into account the specific words that are used to link to certain pages, so that if a bunch of different people use, say, the phrase "more evil than Satan" to link to Microsoft, then when you type this phrase into the Google search engine, Microsoft will come up. More recently this phrase has been used to link to articles about this Google Bomb phenomenon, so now those articles will come up instead.

The most interesting, and most recently buzzed about, Google Bomb is that for the phrase Miserable Failure, which happens to lead you straight to a biography of George W. Bush.

Monday, May 01, 2006

More Hot Yoga

Now that the thesis is getting done, and the housework has been tackled, I finally felt like some hot yoga was in order. I cruised on out on Sunday morning to my favorite Uptown Bikram studio and revisited the good old times (1.5 hr long yoga class in a 105F room with 50% humidity). This time there were no guys wearing the Big Silver Underpants, no Dangerously Nauseated Dudes, or Precariously Off-Balance Big Fat Men to entertain me, which was both disappointing and a bit of a relief. I had to instead entertain myself which isn't too hard when I'm sweating like a pig (except pigs don't sweat so I'm really sweating like a huge football player in a step aerobics class, and believe me, that gets sweaty). When I sweat that much, my hands slip right off my limbs when I try to grab them, the sweat goes up my nose and gets in my eyes, my towel gets soaked, and my feet slip on the floor. I have to concentrate just to do the basic things we're supposed to be doing without totally screwing it up because I'm so sweaty. And every chance I'm not falling over or trying not to fall over, I am scrambling to drink water because I'm getting totally dehydrated. I don't really know how people do that class on a daily basis - you would have to drink gallons of water to replenish what you lost (or maybe you just start sweating less eventually?).

But for some reason I still love it and was thrilled to be back and plan to go again as soon as I can. I'm addicted.

Stinky bathroom

When a bathroom gets stunk up, and the stink isn't ventilated away, where does it eventually go? If it diffuses, then does that mean that rooms near (or far) from the bathroom eventually get a little of the stink, except it's at too low of a level to be detected as a stink? And does that mean that the whole world actually stinks a little, it's just that the stink gets concentrated sometimes and that's when some unfortunate person has to suffer from it?

What a stinky problem.