Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Great Midwest Tour

Tomorrow we are embarking on a Holiday Adventure that will take us first to St. Louis and the vicinity to visit my Dad and then back to Iowa to visit all the other folks. We won't be heading back to Seattle until New Years' Eve!

Today at work I 'wrapped up' for the next week and a half - I put all my stuff away, cleaned off my desk and bench, made long lists detailing what I want to do when I get back, and then chatted with my co-workers for the rest of the day. I'm really burned out at work - when I was making my list for after the holidays, I couldn't muster even a tiny spark of enthusiasm about what I'll be doing when I get back. Usually I hardly can drag myself away. But it's been a very long time since we've taken a Big Week-Long Vacation.

Tomorrow our flight leaves at a pretty comfortable hour so we're going to get up at our usual time and try taking the bus. Public transportation is good in Seattle if you're going during the day and you don't mind transferring a couple times. We have never had both those needs line up just right for airport runs here in Seattle so haven't tried it this way yet. Back in Minnesota we did it all the time because the lightrail went through our neighborhood and straight down to the airport and it was super easy and fast (and cheap!).

Well I'll be taking my computer with me so I'll try to post at least once while I'm gone.

Happy Holidays everyone!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Pants too short - a lifetime of torture

All my life I have struggled to find pants that are tall enough. I am not even that tall (5'8"), so I feel really bad for those of you who officially are considered tall.

When I was in junior high, you could probably have considered me 'tall.' I was a scrawny string-bean and couldn't find a pair of pants that fit to save my life. Sometime in high school they started making longer pants (or I started fitting into them) and my problem was solved... sort of.

Now I can sometimes find pants that fit, but every once in a while, they don't. Or worse, they fit until I wash them, then they don't. The latter is infuriating. The problem is particularly pronounced for pajamas and for athletic pants (eg yoga pants and running pants - this even dates back to my days of horse riding). Are tall people so notoriously un-athletic that there is no need to make long legged ahtletic pants?

My solution: MAKE PANTS LONGER.

The short people can always hem them. HEM! THEM!

This way the rest of us can at least have a chance.

To the short designers of athletic pants: I will even hem your pants for you, if you will just make me some taller pants.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The present under the tree

My step-dad sent us a present that is beautifully wrapped and we put it under our tree.

We're heading to Iowa on Friday for the holidays so we don't have any presents to put under the tree other than the one (we've already wrapped and shipped all of our presents off, and most of the presents we're going to receive are waiting for us in Iowa). My Studly Hubby wants to open the one present we have but I like how pretty it is under our tree (it's even red!!) so I have been resisting.

This is only the second year we have even had such a big tree that we can put presents under. Since we won't be here for Christmas, we haven't put too much effort into decorating it (can you find the one red ball on the tree?). It's so pretty to have it up and the lights on.

We finished our Christmas cards today and I am starting to send those off. We always do an Onion-style newsletter for our Christmas cards and it's super fun to put our talents together (I write, the Studly Hubby does the art) and be creative like this every year. I have so much fun doing it that one year I even did one for our lab. That was super fun too.

I hope everyone is getting a chance in between all the chaos of the holidays to enjoy it!

A hard week and a horrible presentation

I had a rough week last week. First, some strains I spent the last four months making weren't checking out. We tried every last thing and couldn't figure out why they weren't checking out. Finally, on Thursday, I took desperate measures to do a final check on the strains and got an impossible result back. Then I went home to finish working on a big presentation I was giving the next day for all the labs on our floor - about making the strains and checking them out. I put together a good talk, despite our weird results, but my mind just wasn't 100% and I totally fouled it up. One thing about me is, if I'm not 100% I'm about 0% and the result it not pretty. I rambled on and on, jumping from topic to topic, answering questions with unrelated factoids, and saying some things that aren't even true.

I'm trying to let it go. But all the stupid things I said keep floating to the front of my mind and I feel dumb all over again. My Studly Hubby is doing his best to create good diversions. We even went shopping, during the worst time to go shopping, and although it was very helpful it only lasted a few hours and then I was thinking about all the dumb things I said again. We did find some great sales though.

Today we're working on our Christmas cards as further distraction. I had a long counseling session with my counselor-mom over the phone and she helped me feel better. And I'm trying to get some good out of all this useless anxiety by redirecting it into getting housework done. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be ready to go back to work, but I'm really glad Christmas break is coming up.

9 days till Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The lucky pen

A long time ago when I was working on a grant application, the departmental administrator that helped me put my grant together stopped by my desk to have me sign the final forms. She had with her a funky purple pen, so I asked her if it was her lucky purple pen (or if she had another lucky pen) and she gave me a rather confused look so I snatched the purple pen out of her hand and used it to sign the forms, declaring it a lucky pen as I did so. It turned out, it was definitely a lucky pen because I scored better than I ever imagined I would on the grant.

A few weeks later we passed each other in the hall and she was carrying a familiar-looking stack of forms and her funky purple pen. She held it up and proclaimed "the lucky pen! I have everyone sign their grants with it now!" as she hustled by me.

Wow! I changed history.

Monday, December 10, 2007

YOUR Studly Hubby?

It's been over two years now that I've been calling my handsome hunk of a husband "Studly Hubby" on this blog. People who know me in real life and read the blog regularly ask "how's the Studly Hubby?" and such, making it sort of a common household name. Well a friend at work got a call from her husband the other day (who I'm also friends with, he works there too but happened to be at home at the time). Usually when he calls for her or vice versa I say something like, "it's your lover-honey-bunny on the phone" or something like that. The other day I was trying to come up with something new and witty as I walked across the lab with the phone but all I could come up with was "Your Studly Hubby is calling." She gave me a very weird look. It occurred to me later that a) she's probably not very familiar with that term since she doesn't read my blog or b) the statement may have implied that I thought her husband is studly. Hopefully the weird look was because of the former and not the latter. Or maybe she gives me a weird look every time I do that.

Lighting a Fire

It's been cooooold here in Seattle (low '30s F) so last week I emailed our landlord to ask him whether our fireplace actually works. He wrote me back that it does indeed, and to go ahead and try lighting a fire in it (with a fire extinguisher nearby just in case). So Saturday night we talked each other into trying it out. I was very nervous. Lighting a fire in my living room still seems weird, even though I grew up with a woodstove that we used regularly.

It turns out it was extremely easy. Especially because we used a firestarter log that we had lying around from the former tenants. It lit right up, and we had a blazing fire all night. I even properly used the flu to dampen the fire down when appropriate and put it out when we went to bed. I was very proud of myself. And look how lovely our fireplace is!! It was super warm and cozy too.


Does anybody know where to buy firewood in small apartment-sized bundles? I want to try this again!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Getting ready for Christmas

I'm torn between being excited and being stressed out, as usual for this time of year. We have so much to do, and most of it is fun, although there's so little time, but still - it'll be fun, but there's so much to do!!

For the first time ever, we got most of our Christmas gifts bought before it got stressful. We left up some lights from last year so just had to turn those on. And our tree is fake and already strung with lights so that's easy too.

But even with that, there's still so much - getting ready to travel, Christmas cards, wrapping presents and sending them out, all the work-related Christmas parties...

But it's also so much fun!

Brazilian!


As a going-away party for two of my Seattle friends that are already moving on to a new world (yes this is the world of academics), we went to a Brazilian restaurant in downtown Seattle called Ipanema. My boss paid for it, which was good because it was kinda pricey. It was very yummy though.

Traditional Brazilian cuisine goes like this: you get some salad at a salad buffet, then go back to your table and wait for the restaurant staff to bring over big hunks of grilled meat. At your table they cut off little pieces for you that you grab with some tongs as it comes off the hunk. Lots of different kinds of meat hunks are brought around, some over and over, and everyone at our table sort of cheered each other on to keep eating and eating. I went way beyond my eating capacity and then had even more at the end - they brought over grilled pineapple for dessert and then I ordered some coconut flaun (the best I've ever had). It was all really delicious. I am still full from it, two days later.

Well we finally stopped eating and the party finally ended and the Brazilian friends finally flew the coup. They went back to Brazil for a few months to celebrate their newly minted PhD's and then will come back to the Pacific Northwest to start their post-docs in Vancouver, Canada. So they won't be too far away in the end and I'm trying not to be too sad.

End of an era

Well November went past like speed lightning.

But I made it to the end of NaBloPoMo!!


You should hear me try to tell my co-workers about this thing. I get the 'Na' out and then stutter on it for a while before I remember the rest - they all think I'm turning into a crazy person.

To celebrate the end of NaBloPoMo I'm going to post a few more times.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Seattle Snow

Although rumors have surface that it has already snowed in the Seattle outskirts, we had not seen any in the middle of the city until today, and today was a doozy.

We were out at Green Lake doing a jog around the lake followed by lunch at the nearby Mexican restaurant Rosita's. I thought it seemed like the temp was dropping but when you're out exercising sometimes it's hard to keep track of these things. We were sitting in the restaurant when all of a sudden snow flurries were flying outside like it had been snowing all day. The restaurant erupted in excited chaos (it rarely snows here) and we hurried home before traffic got bad (again, it rarely snows here). The snow kept coming down for another hour or so after we got home and it actually accumulated on the ground - we got at least a few inches!

My flowers, which are still blooming, got covered in snow.



Our pretty new car was also covered in snow:


It has finally stopped snowing and now we have to decide how bad it is out there and whether we want to risk going out in it. Unlike the smooth operations of the road crews in Minnesota, Seattle road crews are slim to non-existant and do not get the roads cleaned up very quickly after a heavy snow (and they really don't believe in salt or sand out here).

If maybe it's just a perfect night for some hot cocoa and a snowman!