Sunday, December 31, 2006

Blogging Recap

To prepare for the New Year I'm going to go ahead and steal Peggy's great idea of posting a blog recap from the past year. Not only is this a great idea, but I have two personal reasons for doing this. For one thing, I've had such a hectic year I've forgotten most of it and I wanted to reminisce. For a second thing, I think I have a selective memory and the part of the year I remember is the part I'd rather not remember so I'm going to psychologically reverse my memory patterns through blog therapy. So here goes:

January was cold (since we were in Minnesota). We said good-bye to my mom and brother's last winter-break trip to Minnesota, we went to many good restaurants and took a big trip to Chicago where I bought the coolest boots ever, and I procrastinated writing my thesis by doing taxes.

February was the month we discovered Neopolitan-style pizza at Punch Pizza in St. Paul. Oh, my, that's good stuff. We also went to a gay version of Swan Lake, we forgot to watch the winter olympics, I won boggle, and my Studly Hubby animated like a mad maniac. I did a crucial experiment necessary to finalize my thesis, but there's no mention of actually working on the thesis.

March was scary-busy. I remember it as The Nightmare of 2006, but looking back through my posts I see already that my blog-therapy is working because there was a lot of fun stuff in there too. I partied with my girls at a neighborhood restaurant, went to Orlando for a conference where I soaked up some sun and visited Epcott and Sea World, we got a heapload of snow, and my cousin got married! The part that sucked was that I gave my first conference-talk at the above-mentioned conference and I wrote an entire grant, plus I renewed my CPR training.

April marked the commemorative start of Dairy Queen season, and we walked there for the first time in 2006 on April 1. I also got my first electric toothbrush and made a mess of the bathroom trying to use it. I celebrated my birthday three days in a row, and then the big tornado hit Iowa City, IA (my hometown). I also got the bulk of my thesis written during April and scheduled my defense, although I only mention it in a few posts - another month where blog-therapy helps change my version of history.

May was the month I finally graduated. Unfortunately this seems like a small blip in the radar of the Nightmare Spring of 2006, but I did spend a great deal of time blogging about it - I cleaned house, had a party, invited my mom and brother up, and took a long weekend trip to Iowa to celebrate with my family. Then the next round of chaos started - my mom and dad (who live in separate states) both announced they're moving, I sold my horse, and two of my brothers graduated from high school. Meanwhile a good friend of mine qualified for the Boston Marathon. Whew!

June was the month I was hoping to catch my breath, but reading back over my blog posts I see now why I didn't. We started packing, I helped move my mom out of the farmhouse she's lived in for the past 20 yrs, and we took a short trip to Seattle to rent an apartment. Then I spent some time fretting about the apartment (the one I'm in now), and went to hot yoga a few times to ward off the stress. Meanwhile I was trying to get things finished up at work and trying to enjoy a little bit of spring (some cute squirrels were mentioned).

July was all about packing and moving to Seattle - and the dead cat we found in our backyard the first morning we woke up in our new apartment.

August was a string of new experiences: we explored Seattle, moved into our new apt, started new jobs, went to Boulder CO for the first time and I got traumatized by all the nature in Cold Spring Harbor NY during a conference.

September was a bit calmer (finally). We unpacked, explored greater Seattle a bit more (including a quite memorable hike at Mount Ranier), and settled down to watch some Netflix movies.

October was also a lot calmer. I talked about getting a dog a lot (never did get that dog) and we house-sat for a very cute schipperke. I posted some about the georgeous fall weather here and fall colors, then we went on a second and even better hike up Little Si.

November brought our first trip back to Iowa and four Thanksgiving feasts there (we are still recovering from all that turkey), plus a 10-yr high school reunion. I also voted, and got trained to work with RADIOACTIVITY.

December, and 2006, is about to finish up (in four hours) and mark my 5th month in Seattle. We started going to Quaker church, I worked on some radioactive experiments, and then my mom and brother came up for an awesome week in Seattle.

Happy New Year everyone! This has been one fun-packed year and I hope next year is even more fun (although maybe a little less packed).

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Seattle Christmas Adventure

My mom and bro flew out last Sunday to celebrate Christmas with us and spend the week doing some serious Seattle touristing. Unfortunately it's been kinda cold (being winter and all) and rainy (also a problem in winter) but we've been braving the forces and freezing our tushies off out there. On Tuesday and Wednesday we shopped like crazy mad midwesterners. Then on Thursday we went downtown, did the Underground Tour, Pike's Place and the new public library. On Friday we checked out the neighborhood of Ballard with all it's georgeous shoreline views and fishing restaraunts (my bro got some fish and chips), and we went to the Ballard Locks. Today we went over to the East side and drove out into the country a bit to see some woods (all a bit messy still from the storm though).

Although it has all been quite fun, the Underground Tour was for me the best part (although my mom thought it was a bit boring so maybe it's not for everyone). The tour gave a little history lesson on Seattle's birth in the late 1800s and then led a tour of the underground (original) downtown area. Seattle was first built at sea level, which didn't bode well for getting rid of sewage. After several failed attempts at pipelines, which all led to smelly explosions and stagnant poopy water, the city happened to burn down (unrelated to the sewage problem, more related to the problem of everything being built with wood). Businesses then rebuilt using brick, but the city insisted on raising up the streets so that sewage lines could properly be installed underneath them. The result: the sidewalks and businesses were about one story lower than the streets. This meant that people walked on sidewalks down below street level (and climbed ladders to get up and over the streets), which was a little dangerous (especially for the drunk), so eventually the sidewalks were enclosed and you had a choice of being above ground or going underground while doing your shopping. Eventually the underground was shut down due to an outbreak of the plague, and went unused until the 1960s when somebody had the bright idea of making some money off of giving tours. I thought hearing the history was pretty cool. The picture here is one from their website of a guy looking up at the glass windows that were built into the underground to let light in.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Our FIRST Christmas Tree!!

This will be the fourth Christmas that my Studly Hubby and I have celebrated while living together, but the first ever that we have hosted at our place (my mom and brother are arriving by plane TODAY, they are en route RIGHT NOW). Therefore we thought it would be a good year to buy a tree, but we're too cheap and lazy to go out and get a real one so we went down to Walgreens and bought a $25 tree (pictured at left). Note that this is our first normal-sized tree - it's 6.5' tall! We were quite pleased with the way it turned out. We even have presents under it (thanks to everyone who sent them!)

My Studly Hubby cooked up a storm all weekend while I flitted about the apartment getting ready for visitors and finally getting some of the things done that follow a big move - organizing the closets, hanging pictures, etc. Now our apartment is all clean and smells like pie, banana bread and bean soup. No need for a turkey- and pine-scented candle this year! -although we don't really have pine, but all the other smells make up for it I think.

We've been totally absorbed in Christmas this year, for the first time since I was a kid - since we aren't going anywhere we had time to listen to loads of Christmas music, properly decorate, cook, and go to church (yes we are still doing that). We even danced a bit to "Jingle Bells." It's fun to not travel, but we're very lucky that our relatives can travel here to visit us. Otherwise I think I'd get bored next week.

Merry Christmas everybody!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Gay Bingo!!

We got an ad in the mail yesterday for Gay Bingo in Seattle. Who knew bingo could be so specialized? This isn't just any Gay Bingo either. It's an event (that you buy tickets for) and each time you go there is a different theme, e.g. Superhero Gay Bingo and Pirate Gay Bingo.

I really want to go. I would go to the Superhero Gay Bingo. I bet there would be a lot of good outfits. Their website says over 750 people usually show up, plus it's for a good cause (the Lifelong Aids Alliance). The problem is, it's $20 per ticket and we aren't that big of bingo fans. Maybe we'll try to get somebody else to go to scope it out for us, and if it's really a good party then we'll think about it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm ONLY LIGHTLY NERDY!!

DESPITE having a PhD in MICROBIOLOGY, I am only LIGHTLY nerdy. How can this be? I don't know whether to be pissed or relieved.

I am nerdier than 54% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Denver Blizzard

Even though I don't live there and have only been there a few times, I am going to go ahead and post about the Denver Blizzard.

Holy crap, they got a lot of snow over there.

My friend who is there right now, wrote,

"My sister and I spent a while out in our backyard making tunnels and just wading in the drifts of snow. This is by far the best winter break ever!! I haven't been able to tunnel in snowdrifts since I was a kid."

Then she went on to describe a city that is completely immobilized - people can't even get out of their own neighborhoods. Sounds like both a wild fun good time and a super-frustrating situation. I hope all those stranded folks at the airport get where they're trying to go without too much more of a delay. I have another friend in Boulder who is stuck at home for a bit while she waits for the next available flight out - to Seattle to visit me! Everyone cross your fingers that she gets out eventually so we can be reunited.

The picture above was found by doing a Google search for "Denver Blizzard" - I didn't take it and I'm not even totally sure it was taken in Denver but it was good so here it is.

Christmas FOOD

So one of the great things about holidays is FOOD. Some people may argue that FOOD is the only great thing about holidays but I can think of a few other things that come in second and third to food.

This year we're hosting Christmas for my mom and brother who are flying out Sunday and spending the week here. We put up a tree, lights, wrapped some presents, hung stockings (although we still haven't figured out how to work our fireplace), and bought tons of FOOD. My Studly Hubby has been planning the menu all week but the only thing I really need is pumpkin pie. Although it is nice to also have brownies, caramel pecan rolls, ham balls and green bean casserole. And mashed potatoes. And cranberry sauce. Oh my gosh, I can't wait.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It SMELLS like Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching it's hard not to be consumed by it - lights everywhere, people bringing in Christmas-y treats to work, presents and cards arriving every day...

So I decided I needed to get off my butt and do something about it, and I wrote our Fourth Annual Christmas Newsletter and sent it out to a bunch of people.

Except that I don't know the Ins and Outs at work yet so couldn't figure out how to print it in color, and when I went to Kinkos they told me it was going to be a dollar per newsletter! That seemed outrageous. So I went home and printed them all on our inkjet printer (draft quality). I only screwed up three of them, and two weren't my fault. The printer ate them. The third was totally my fault. Since everyone I know moved this year it was a real pain getting all the addresses and I finally gave up on some and just emailed them. Except I'm not very graphics suave and the file was gigantic and took about five minutes to upload. Hopefully I didn't jam up everybody's inboxes.

I've been having the wildest dreams this week. The other night I dreamt I was starring in the next Harry Potter movie, but got rudely interrupted by my alarm clock so I'm not sure how that ended. Then last night I dreamt that someone gave me a school bus, and a few nights ago I dreamt I was being chased but was driving a train. Those other dreams lasted a long time and had multiple parts but they were pretty much all the same theme with various characters wandering in and out.

I hope everyone is gearing up for an awesome holiday season. Our place doesn't smell like Christmas yet because our tree is fake and we haven't started Cooking the Feast, but I think by mid-day Sunday it'll definitely smell like Christmas. If not I'll go buy a pine- and turkey-scented candle.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

6 Weird Things About Me

I got tagged a while ago by several of you to write 6 weird things about me but then got busy and couldn't till now. But, for those of you who haven't given up, HERE THEY ARE!

1. I don't mix my fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt before eating it. For those of you who think that is gross, I think YOU are gross for mixing yours.

2. I can't remember my birthday, how old I am, how long I've been married or my own phone number without thinking really hard about it (and sometimes even then I come up with nothing). But somehow I managed to snag myself a Ph.D. - I guess you don't really have to remember anything for those (although I have already forgotten where the diploma is).

3. I could NEVER, EVER be a bus driver or a cab driver, and I'm pretty sure I'd be terrible working as a waitress too. The skill required for these types of jobs is way beyond me and I am totally amazed by the people who do them.

4. I am always freezing. Sometimes my fingernails even turn blue. I need a blanket even in a house that is already 72 degrees.

5. I am a terrible present-buyer. I get really stressed out about it, and I am bad at coming up with good stuff to buy people. The best Christmas present I could get is being absolved of buying presents.

6. When faced with my own devices, I am perfectly happy to eat whatever is available in any combination for dinner. This has included leftover waffles and ribs (together), a ham sandwich on cinnamon-raisin bread, and an entire meal of apple crisp.

There you have it! I think I am supposed to tag some other people in return, except I don't remember how many. Since most of you have already done this, I would simply like to tag:

Speedy KT and Uncle KT

These are two of my good friends in Minnesota who I'm sure have lots of weird things about themselves to share with us.

Seattle Wind Storm

We had a huge windstorm here in Seattle on Thursday night. We knew it was coming but it was still a bit much for the city. The first problem (as always) was traffic - there was a flash flood right before the high winds so cars were getting stuck in high water and some major streets were closed. A woman reportedly died in here flooded basement too. Traffic was a mess. Once the wind started they had to shut down some of the big bridges. The first picture at left is a shot of the 520 bridge that goes across Lake Washington - you can see the waves crashing up against the bridge here. They later shut down the 520 bridge, then had to leave it closed for a while on Friday to get something fixed that had been damaged in the storm. Unfortunately this is one of only two routes to get across Lake Washington so that was a big of a problem. The next big problem were the giant trees that fell on everybody's houses (not on ours thank goodness). Here in the Northwest we've got some pretty big trees, so when they fall it can be a sight. I got some pics of it from the local newspapers to show below:














After that, everybody had to deal with electricity outages. The Microsoft campus was without power, as was most of the East side. Several people at my work lost power. Stores and malls were without power (some stayed open anyway). Lots of traffic and street lights were out. Some people are still without power even today. This means possibly no heat or hot food.

We were very lucky. No damage to our home, no electricity outages (only some flickering) and no trees fell on our car, although we did get hit in the parking lot of the grocery store on Sat afternoon - they left a note and we're getting it fixed.

I extend my thoughts to all those in the city that are still without power and I hope everyone can find warm food, heat and a shower someplace close so they can stay comfortable until their power comes back on.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hairy Legs and Ear Wax

Now that I'm not getting in shorts and teaching spin every week, I've let my laziness preside and my leg-hair grow wild. The thing is, I think I'm getting old or something because my leg hair is no longer the light-colored hardly-noticeable stuff it once was (at least from mid-calf down). From mid-calf down my leg hair has turned dark and coarse and seems to want to grow until the end of time. It's starting to look like I have some kind of leg warmers on from a distance. Is this a late-twenties kind of thing that happens to everyone? Or did I pick up some kind of curse? Maybe this is related to the Seattle climate! Well I don't know.

And my ear wax is another problem. Ever since I can remember I've always made a lot of ear wax - I even had tubes put in my ears when I was a tyke. What makes things complicated is that doctors actually tell you not to clean your ears out with cotton balls or Q-tips, because you can irritate your ear canal (which I have done, it's not pleasant). So when your ear starts to fill up with wax because you've had the most annoying cold for the past two weeks, what do you do? Well when I was at Minnesota I went to the student health clinic (which was very good). It was right down the way, and I didn't even have to go outside to get there, so I'd just bop on down and get what is called an "ear lavage" which is when they shoot water in your ear with a big syringe to dislodge the wax until it all comes out. It took about fifteen minutes. Now, however, the doctor's clinic is a little further away and not quite as easy to get appointments at, so I've been trying to figure out a way to do this on my own. It's an easy enough concept, but complicated for a couple of reasons. First of all, I don't have a big syringe. I do have a shower, which creates some water pressure but hasn't worked so far. I also have a turkey baster, which I haven't tried yet. Second, I can't see inside my own ear. This seems obvious, but it's a problem when you're trying to get the most effective angle with the stream of water. So I may have to recruit my Studly Hubby. I'm sure this is the last thing he wants to do, but maybe if I promise to make Christmas cookies he'll oblige. Who can make Christmas cookies with a plugged up ear?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ready for Christmas?

We spent the weekend Christmas shopping and doing a little Christmas decorating, then we went out Sunday night to look at some Christmas lights. It was a very Christmas-y weekend. I ended up buying a 6.5-foot artificial tree ($25 at Walgreens!) to replace our dinky little tree that went MIA during our move last summer. That meant we had to buy a few more decorations because the three we had didn't quite cover it. To look at Christmas lights we went to Candy Cane Lane, a cul-de-sac and side street smack in the middle of the city (pretty close to us) that puts out a huge effort and lots of electricity every Christmas. In addition to extravagant decorations on each house (one even had Christmas music playing in their front yard) they decorated the grassy circular median. The thing that was really fun, though, was that it's such a well-known destination that there were all kinds of families out walking the circle and taking pictures, and lots of people were even dressed up (there was one dog being walked with Christmas lights on his collar). We were at the place to be! Note: we forgot to take our camera so the picture at the left is one I found on the internet.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I'm lost in Lost

We've been watching the show Lost on DVD. We started watching it because a group of people at my work get together to watch the new episodes and we want to get caught up so we can join them (part of my plan for Making Friends). I enjoyed it at first, but am quickly becoming disenchanted. There are so many things wrong with the show I don't even know where to begin, but really, it's all related to this: the show is way too overdone. It is exactly why TV puts me on edge: they are out to trap you and make you watch more by any means possible. Some of the stuff that happens doesn't even make any sense when you shake out of your Lost-induced hallucinations long enough to really think about it. Why, for example, aren't they ever concerned about food? We should all know from our Survivor experience that food is a major problem when you get stuck on a gorgeous tropical island. Especially when there are 40-some of you and only one person seems to know how to hunt (and he's constantly distracted anyway). I'll forgive them that they can't make the actors all lose a bunch of weight to more accurately reflect their situation, but they could at least write into the script something about their concern over the food situation every once in a while. Instead food just appears out of nowhere (fish? oh, here's a net we weaved from nothing with no skills and now we're going to catch some fish in the shallow water where fish wouldn't be, and there you go! fish! now everyone is free to fight monsters).

One thing I like about the show is that it's filmed in Hawaii (like Dog the Bounty Hunter). Oh, my, what a lovely place.

Monday, December 04, 2006

J-Funk Does Radioactivity

Now that I've been recently awarded a shiny new "Radiation Safety" certificate, I was all ready to roll up my sleeves today and dig in. Unfortunately, the radioactive isotope we happened to have was about 20 times more concentrated than what I needed, but I had to use it anyway because it was what we had. So I suited up - put on the lab coat, the gloves, turned on the Geiger counter, got all my tubes lined up and labeled, then got out the "source vial" - the vial that the radioactivity comes in (a huge thing inside several other things, all screwed down tightly). Unfortunately the mere thought of the amount of radioactivity I was handling got me sweating profusely and quaking in my boots, and I almost dropped the whole deal on my foot. Then I stuck my finger in some of it (with my glove on) and had to switch gloves. Then I couldn't get the lid back on it. Once I finally got it back into the freezer I did about ten surveys over the benchtop to make sure I didn't spill any while I had it out. I even did a survey of myself and my notebook. Then I staggered out of the room and passed out in the hallway (and came back later to document what I had used and that I didn't get any on myself). All in all, it went well, since nothing blew up and nobody called the police. I give myself a Gold Star.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

J-Funk Goes to Church, Again

I went to church again today. This was my second time at church in Seattle and my second time in church in about five years. I chose not to return to the last one, which was a very small congregation - I've always enjoyed being a bit more anonymous and didn't want to be the only one my age. I went instead to a Quaker church, which gets me back to my Quaker roots a little bit (my mom and my dad independently became quakers in my youth, and then one of my brothers ended up going to a quaker high school in Iowa, Scattergood). This church was appealing to me for several reasons - 1) it is within walking distance, 2) it is in what is called "University District," which I thought might increase the population of young intellectual types like me, and 3) it is a fairly big church.

The drawback is, it's a traditional unprogrammed Quaker meeting (church isn't actually the correct name for it), with no minister and no service. Everyone just sits and stares at each other, sometimes for the entire hour (the alternative is for someone to stand up and say whatever is on their minds, sometimes this can be much more powerful than any sermon but sometimes it's not that interesting). For people who like to be quiet, sitting in silence for an hour is the best thing ever. For people with Attention Deficit Disorder (like me), this is not so great.

I knew this was what it was going to be like before I got there, but I still went because I thought, hey! everyone meditates (even Wolverine, and he's hot) so why shouldn't I? Besides it seems like that kind of thing outta be helpful in some way (especially for a young stressed out thing like me). And again, the church had many other perks.

So I went, and you know? Sitting in silence for an hour is exactly as horrible as it sounds (maybe even worse). But two other things happened that were neat. First, I saw the leader of my book club there, and he came over and talked to me for a while which is exactly why I've been wanting to join a church - seeing a familiar face is uplifting in so many ways. And then, I met a girl from my hometown in Iowa. She knew some people I know (my neighbors! who are also Quaker), she recently worked at Scattergood, and she also has Attention Deficit Disorder. It's hard to tell right now if we're soul mates, but it was certainly looking good (note: I'm not looking for a girlfriend, since I'm hetero and married, but I am definitely in the market for a friend, since I currently have none within a ten mile radius). So she had some suggestions on how an ADD girl like me can get through an hour of silence and then promised to sit by me through the next service to help me get through it. yay!

Note: for those of you who aren't familiar with the Quaker religion, you could probably think of them as being famous for their anti-war philosophy (and yes, they are Christian and sometimes conservative but generally very liberal). This church was liberal, and definitely anti-war. They organize peace rallies, get arrested at protests, put out signs and have bumper stickers and one guy even mentioned today that he puts "Give Peace a Chance" on all of his stationary at work (and he's a lawyer!).

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The youngest sports fan


Do you think this was set up?

Picture courtesy of The Broom, who says it's his kid, but I doubt it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Happy Friday!

Usually I am so excited for Friday I can hardly keep myself awake until 8 pm. Tonight, it's 9:15 pm and I'm still up! It's a Friday miracle! I owe it to having missed most of this week at work. First, I was travelling. Then, I was sick. Finally, I just gave up. I realized something: when you don't work most of the week, you have a little more energy for Friday.

So tomorrow I'm going to bust out and do some stuff. A book that I've been waiting for with great excitement is finally in at the library (the latest Janet Evanovich book, oooooohhh aaaaaaahhh). Plus we somehow lost our Christmas tree, I discovered this last night when I went to haul it out. The Studly Hubby thinks we might have thrown it away but neither of us can remember for sure. Apparently we place little priority on remembering the fate of a midget $15 tree. Now we need to figure out what to do. We don't have any storage for a bigger better artificial tree, but we're too lazy to go out and find one in some field, cut it down and tie it onto our car and bring home. What's really putting a crimp in our decision-making process is that we're hosting Christmas for the first time this year and I kind of feel like we should at least have something. Which is why I was looking for our old tree. Maybe we should just get another one of those. What a bummer that we lost it. Who loses a tree anyway?

Anyways back to busting out tomorrow. I may also get a haircut, start writing our Christmas newsletter, and/or go for a walk. I haven't formally exercised for a week now (like with work, I was sidetracked by travelling, being sick, then simply giving up) so I need to start with something light. Whenever I go for a bit without formal exercise I start getting a little crazy, so it would be good to work on that. The weather here turned to crap the last few weeks but it's probably going to stay that way for a while so I need to get over it.

But first, I'm going to go to bed, sleep a good solid stretch, and relish the sweet life of a no-committment Saturday morning. These are rare.

Goodbye Mr. Mop!

A blog legend was once born, called himself Mr. Mop, wrote a bit about cycling and a bit about his home-grown tomatoes, then one day he wrote "It's OVER!" and he never blogged again. He did this almost like he had planned all along for the blog to be short-lived. It's funny, I always assumed my blog would someday lose my interest (like so many diaries I've tried to keep) but at the same time I've always thought of it as permanent. Strange paradox. And here I am, still blogging.

And if you readers keep reading, I'll probably keep blogging.

But Mr. Mop has moved on to other things. I wish you luck in the next life Mr. Mop!!