oceantheorem: (coffee and writing)
Oh wow, has it really been this long since I updated? Where did the last month go?

Things are going really well here. We've definitely settled in, to our new apartment and our new jobs and our new life. I can honestly say I'm happier than I've been in years. I like my job, I like where my life is, and I LOVE being back on the west coast. I know I keep going on about the food, and the weather, and the FOOD, and the WEATHER, but I can't stop. I marvel at every perfectly made sandwich slathered with fresh ripe avocado, at every November morning that's warm enough for me to bike to work in a t-shirt. In the three+ months I've worked here, I can count on one hand the number of times I've been forced to eat lunch indoors due to inclement or cold weather. There is SUN! And good coffee! And something called aioli! ::dies::

So. I'm also thrilled with the amount of STUFF to do. I've hung out with friends, gone to a vampire-themed ball, seen people fling themselves into the bay in poorly-designed homemade aircraft... Tonight I went to a tiny little cafe on the other side of the city to see Lauren O'Connell sing. I discovered her two or three years ago on youtube (I can't even remember now how I found her. through Julia Nunes maybe?), and she has an absolutely incredible voice, coupled with a real talent for songwriting - the way she takes emotions and puts them into neat little words that don't diminish their feeling at all is just... mindblowing. Anyway, so I got to go see her sing tonight, and she's just as awesome in person. And is an awesome person. It was one of those times where I became the awkward nerd I really am deep down inside, and she was super friendly. I told her my name just once, when I first walked into the cafe 20 minutes before the show and she was standing by the door, and she remembered it. She called me by my name an hour later. Wow.

Jim is out driving for SideCar tonight, and was far away when the show ended, so I actually used the SideCar app myself for the first time tonight. The woman who picked me up was really friendly, and we had a nice chat. She's in the global health program here and suggested I look into it or something like it. I had forgotten how much energy and passion there can be for science, and I feel like there is a lot of it here in this city. People here want to do things that matter. And, astonishingly, they ARE. It's terrifying and intimidating and inspiring.

It's late, and I know I'm rambling, so I'll just stop. But yeah. I'm happy. That's new. It's cool. It should keep... doing... that.
oceantheorem: (ff Kaylee happy)
I skipped over some stuff with my last entry (which I posted to G+ first, and then decided I wanted archived, so I put it here too).

Jim got his second paycheck from Knight. It was for negative $1400. He quit. They said he had reported his work "late" and that he would get paid "in the next check", but they couldn't tell him how much he'd get paid. And he had been told three or four different deadlines for the reporting, so it was hardly his fault that he missed the real one.

We bought a Prius. It's a 2005, and it's gold. I hated it for the first day, but when I finally got a chance to drive it on Sunday it immediately won me over. It's fairly comfortable. It has automatic windows, locks, and transmission (well, sort of. it's got Prius transmission). It's like driving a computer - if you have the key in your pocket, the door unlocks automatically when you approach the car. You get in, still with the key in your pocket, put your foot on the brake, and press the round Power button, and the car turns on. You move a lever until the display reads Reverse or Drive, and then move your foot to the gas and the car goes - all with the key still in your pocket. It's insane. It's like driving a spaceship.

We named her Serenity.

Jim went to a meet and greet for SideCar, his new company, Friday evening. It's a ridesharing company that is essentially a taxi service, but cheaper, more reliable, faster, and WAY less creepy. It's all coordinated through smartphone apps. I tagged along in the passenger seat Friday night while Jim gave rides around the city for a couple hours, and it was a lot of fun. We got to chat with interesting people, and we made like $100 in two hours. I think this'll be a much better job for Jim, at least in the short term.

This weekend was supposed to be a mess in the city, so I flipped through event listings on the web to see if anything in particular looked like fun. I found a listing for a steampunk/Oktoberfest combination dance, and we decided to go. This meant we had to put together costumes, so we went wandering around our neighborhood Saturday morning to find thrift stores. We got some decent costume pieces and cobbled a look together, though we didn't have any accessories or anything (no goggles or awesome boots or leather of any kind). The dance was a lot of fun. They had victorian waltzes in addition to polkas, plus a few set dances they taught on the spot, and we had a blast. I even got to wear my nice dancing shoes, which I haven't done since the wedding. We got some fliers for some other events by this group, and we'll definitely be going to more of them.

Sunday we drove Jim's semi to the nearest Knight lot, which was four hours away, in the central valley. Serenity averaged just under 50 miles per gallon (she's meant for city driving, not highway, but I still think that's pretty impressive!). Jim and I played "what's that crop?" on the way through Gilroy and the surrounding area. It's a little sad that we don't recognize fields of bell peppers or strawberries or garlic on the spot. If I had a kid I would insist on having a garden and making the kid help grow our food. Maybe once we get a house I'll start a garden anyway. I should be mature enough by now not to kill plants just by looking at them.

All in all, I'm loving living here. We've settled, I think, and I feel better than I've felt in years. I'm in better shape. Running and biking are enjoyable - my body RESPONDS to requests for action, in a I CAN DO THIS kind of way instead of a OH HELL THIS HURTS kind of way. It's giddying. I feel happy. I am home, and things are of course not perfect, but I made it back to California, after a thousand million years away, and it keeps getting better and it's going to keep getting better. This is good.
oceantheorem: (cheese)
It is a glorious day in San Francisco! The morning sun is shining - and by shining I mean SHINING - in through our apartment window and across my computer desk. I am actually getting tanned as I type this.

There are supposed to be a million extra people in the city today, for events such as America's Cup (sailboat races), Fleet Week (military leave, including Blue Angels demonstrations and navy ship tours), Italian Heritage Festival, Castro Street Festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, a 49ers game, and a Giants game.

What will Jim and I be doing?


Going to a free French cheese tasting. Hanging out in Dolores Park with ice cream while we check out the Zeitgeist/Venus Project (http://www.thevenusproject.com/) meetup. Going thrift shopping for clothes for Jim so we can go to the Steampunkoktoberfest dance ball tonight in San Mateo. Spending a few hours offering rides through SideCar, making more in a couple hours than Jim made in an entire month with Knight Transport.

Have I mentioned in the last five minutes that I LOVE CALIFORNIA?

DragonCon!

Sep. 8th, 2011 09:43 am
oceantheorem: (surprisedragon)
Note: I have a ton to say about DragonCon, but I haven't had much time to write it all down. The below is what I wrote Tuesday night in the airport while waiting to board the plane. I'm hoping to spend some more time writing at some point today...

6th September 2011
DragonCon! Fabulous time. I’m sitting in the airport now, waiting to go home, and felt the need to decompress. I kind of wish I’d brought my paper journal, but I guess I’ve been moving more and more away from that for a few years now… everything is so digitalized now. Oh well.  I guess this means I can post this on LJ when I get internet access again.
 
DragonCon turned out to be very dragon-y for me, which I didn’t expect. I knew it was a big nerd convention, and had a lot of sci-fi stuff, but I didn’t expect there to be a ton of fantasy. It initially seemed that, despite the name, there weren’t really going to be very many dragons at DragonCon. I was happily very wrong. First off, there is an Anne McCaffrey track (tracks are just little individualized sets of scheduling for the weekend of the con; each track has a theme and its own schedule, and con-goers can either stick mostly with one track or pick and choose and go to lots of little elements from a wide variety of tracks. I went for the latter approach), which had a number of interesting panels (I went to three). Second, the art show was fabulous and was very heavy on fantasy and dragon art. Michael Whelan was there, which I hadn’t expected. I mean, I hadn’t even known beforehand there was an art show, and was originally not at all interested in it. But Barb recommended it to us, so I went through it Friday with Amy and her husband, and was floored. The art was beautiful, and at one point I came around a corner and came face to face with a large painting of Ruth. It’s actually the original painting of the book cover of All The Weyrs of Pern, which features the white dragon Ruth in the foreground. I almost fell over – it’s an iconic painting and one I knew immediately and recognized on a visceral level. Until that moment I hadn’t realized how deep in my psyche the Anne McCaffrey books are located.
 
I walked into the booth featuring the Ruth painting and found a large selection of Michael Whelan’s work, including prints of the All The Weyrs of Pern cover and the The White Dragon cover, which also featured Ruth. I bought the pair (they were offering a discount if you got both, and I desperately wanted both), and then the woman working the booth (who I later realized was Michael Whelan’s wife) told me I could get Michael to sign them if I liked. She pointed to a man in the corner of the booth and it dawned on me that this was the actual artist. For some reason I’d thought the workers were hired, or volunteers, so I was shocked to realize this absolutely famous and iconic dragon painter was working his own booth and interacting one on one with customers. Michael turned out to be extremely friendly, and chatted with me while we opened the packaging on my prints and pulled them apart so he could sign them, then held them apart while the signatures dried. I was surprised at how engaged he was in our conversation; it didn’t seem at all like he was bored or put upon to be speaking to a lowly fan.
 
I took my (signed!) art out of the booth, thanking Michael profusely, walked around the side of the booth, and burst into tears. The interaction had been so shocking and so incredible, and so positive, that I just couldn’t process all my emotions at once.
 
After a few moments I recovered and was able to walk around the rest of the art show. I ended up buying a small shoulder dragon made out of wire and ribbon, thinking I’d regret the purchase, but having my own little fire-lizard on my shoulder turned out to be a fabulous experience, and she immediately grew on me. She also turned out to be quite the head-turner, as I got tons of comments on her as I wandered the rest of the con over the next couple days, and most people asked where they could get their own. I hear that booth sold out of shoulder dragons the same day I got mine.
 
The dragon-ness of the con continued, as I wore the shoulder dragon again Saturday and gathered more comments. Jim had joined us by then, and we met up with Alma to watch the con parade. When the Weyrfest section went by, they invited me to join them, so I got a few quick pictures with them before returning to my seat on the sidewalk with my friends. I think next year I actually might join them, since I kind of wished I had after they’d gone out of sight.
 
Later that afternoon Jim and I stopped at an ATM (for the second time that day) and I got into a conversation with the girl in front of us (who was visiting the states from Australia and was having a blast at her first DragonCon!). She was also a huge Pern fan, and told me about Western Weyr and Hold, a community on proboards that’s been role-playing for god knows how long. She invited me to check it out, so I jotted down the name. It sounds fascinating.
 
Sunday I wore my brand-new corset and Jim and I went through the art show again (as he hadn’t seen it yet). We bought several more pieces of dragon art from several different artists, and I got a giant henna tattoo of a dragon over my left breast. I’m beginning to think that if I ever get a permanent tattoo I’m going to want a dragon. I mean, I can’t believe I didn’t think of that before. It’s so logical. If I had a patronus or a familiar, it would undoubtedly be a dragon or a fire-lizard. I think maybe I’ll try out the Western Weyr thing and see if the role-playing sticks, and see which dragon I end up with (I’m guessing a green, hmmm. not sure how I feel about that.). Then maybe I’d get a tattoo based on that.
 
Anyway. Sunday I also went to a couple McCaffrey-themed panels. First there was one about the bad girls of Pern, the ones with gold dragons. We talked about Kylara mostly. It wasn’t a particularly impressive panel, but it was interesting to interact with other members of the fandom for the first time. They were… ha. They were almost like the nerd rejects of the nerd reject world. They were very socially awkward, and the panel itself was in a very small room in the basement of one of the hotels, hidden away through twisting and turning hallways. It was like the whole fandom had been outcast.
****************************************
(That was as far as I got before the plane started boarding. From here on is stuff I'm trying to remember now, 8th Sept 11, Thursday.)

The second McCaffrey-themed panel I went to Sunday was one featuring Michael Whelan, talking about the cover art to The White Dragon and how it helped launch both his and Anne McCaffrey's careers. I can't remember any particular comments at this point, but the hour was overall very interesting and I was glad I went (even though it meant I ended up missing the Buffy panel featuring James Marsters).

Monday morning there was a panel about the Pern movie. The featured speakers were Todd McCaffrey and Anne McCaffrey's lawyer, and they spent most of the hour talking about the history of the rights to the movie. At the very very end they said they have a new person on the project now, and there is a script, and there is talk of doing a script arc for three movies covering the first three books. Everyone got really excited about that. I'm hopeful that the CGI dragons will look "right" and the actors will be decent... if they screw up Pern I'm gonna be really, really upset.

Anyway, it ended up being a very dragon-filled weekend. I'm  having a hard time now readjusting to real life and letting go of the happy dragon feelings from the con, but we do have a ton of dragon art to put up on our walls, and I've been looking at roleplaying Weyr communities online, so hopefully I can drag out the happiness a while. 

There is a ton more to say about the con, but I think I should start a new entry...




oceantheorem: (emperor's new groove feel the power)
 Guys! GUYS! Oh man. I'm posting in my journal AGAIN.

Life is really, really, really good right at this moment. I wanted to write it down, to capture it, to keep it forever. It is WARM outside (I don't know where spring went. It snowed here two weeks ago, and now it is 80 outside and muggy and LOVELY) and summer is here. The sliding glass door is open. I'm cooking a lovely marinated steak, and an artichoke. I'm drinking beer. I got a birthday card from Jim's parents that is signed, "Love, Mom and Dad." My friend Anne sent me a hilarious knitted whip (she's such a Slytherin, deep down) for my birthday. My best friend Ann sent me a box of incredibly good dark chocolate (does it GET any better than a box of dark chocolate??). I am marrying the most wonderful, sweetest, cleverest, offbeat man I have ever met.

Okay. Maybe the beer is getting to me a bit. I'm definitely feeling sappy. But life feels so, so good right now. Everything, in this moment, is just right.
oceantheorem: (yay omg yay kermit)
 Good things are coming up! I'm starting to get excited.

I finally booked plane tickets to go see my mom in May. My original plan was to call her, like, Thursday while she was at work (the Thursday before Mother's Day - and my birthday) and ask her what her Mother's Day plans were. When she said "nothing" or "just hanging out" I was gonna reply, "Aw, that's too bad. I wish we could go out to dinner or something." And then she'd come home and I'd be IN THE KITCHEN and we'd go out to dinner and it would be totally awesome.

You know, planning surprises is REALLY HARD. So she knows about the visit now, but I'm going for a nice long five-day visit, and we both have the opportunity to make sure we get all those days off work, so we'll have plenty of time to spend hanging out together. I haven't seen her in a year and half, which is absurd and totally unacceptable, so I'm really really looking forward to this visit.

There's a bunch of other stuff on the horizon for this summer. First off is a casual get-together with House Cup friends in June - people from around Michigan and some of the connecting states are going to meet up for an afternoon potluck type thing. I've met most of the people who are coming, so it will be a nice chance to chat with some friends I don't see often.

July gets really crazy. Or, the third weekend in July is crazy. The Michigan Brewer's Guild Beer Festival is on the 22nd and 23rd, and I've been looking forward to it since LAST July. I've been to the festival the last two years, and it's just awesome. It's such a fun gathering, and there are hundreds of different beers to taste. The atmosphere is fabulous, and the company is even better.  This year, sadly, Jim's sister is getting married that Saturday, so we won't be able to spend the whole day there, but I do plan on taking most of that Friday off work so we can spend all of Friday at the festival.

August looks clear at the moment, except for maybe a fiber festival on the other side of the state...

The first weekend of September is going to be the highlight of the summer this year. I've been talked into attending DragonCon in Atlanta. There are several House Cuppers (Slytherins, actually) who live there, and my House Cup friend from San Francisco is going to be meeting up with them down there too, so it was really inevitable that they'd talk me into going. Plus, James Marsters, Felicia Day, and Anne McCaffrey will be there. It's a huge convention for nerds. It's going to be four days of epic drunken House Cup nerdery.

In the meantime, the sun is slowly returning to these parts. It's making me cheerier and giving me more and more energy. I feel less like sitting in the dark in my apartment and hiding from the world, and more like MAKING things and DOING things and SEEING people and GOING places. I need to start channeling all that energy somewhere (and I miss living in California, where I remember this energy being so much more powerful...).

This evening I started working on a costume for our Friday night gaming group. One of our members just had a baby (and was our DM, and is not going to be attending for the forseeable future), so we've switched to a new campaign for the next several weeks. I'm playing a witch, the kind who lives in a secluded hut and has branches in her hair and is a little crazy but makes the most effective potions you've ever tasted.  So I scored some free glass test tubes from work and spent this evening brewing up the perfect potion. I settled on water, butter, xanthan gum, and food coloring.  Then I had to figure out how to cap the tubes, which was a bit more of a challenge, but wax-soaked cut-up-sweater-squares glued and then tied on seem to have done the trick. None of them are leaking yet!

Now I just need a stuffed weasel (on its way overnight from amazon.com!) and a black skirt I can shred and tie branches into...
oceantheorem: (wine)
Okay, Rhinebeck was amazing, and I need to make a post filled with lots of pretty pictures of awesome things.

But first, Jim and I made an incredible dinner tonight almost by accident, and I wanted to record it so we can recreate it in the future.

We found SimplyRecipes.com a while back and one of the first recipes we tried out was their Beef & Beer Stew. It turned out fabulous the first time we made it and got... successively worse every time we tried to make it again. So we finally stopped making stew.  Jim decided this week that we'd try a new stew recipe to see if we could get something tasty with a different approach.  He picked out a recipe for rabbit stew, though alas, we could not find any bunny meat.  We used beef instead (recipe below).

I went gluten free for a month a while ago, thinking gluten might be the cause of a host of abdominal problems I've been having over the last year and a half. The results were tenuous, and my doctor was adamant that gluten was safe, so over the last several weeks I've been slowly (and a bit distrustfully) introducing gluten back into my diet. First I stopped reading labels, then I started eating pasta, and finally I started to approach bread again.

I'm not sure how it came up in conversation, but a week or so ago a friend mentioned Artisanal Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, an article she'd read on the internet ages ago. She said it made a great recipe and I should try it.  So I did.

This is what I did:
Mix 3 cups lukewarm water with 1.5 tbsp fast-rise yeast. Stir. Add in 6.5 cups whole wheat flour and 1.5 tbsp salt. Stir. Let rise covered (but not sealed) at room temp for 2 hours. Refridgerate overnight.
Remove from fridge, pull out approximately 1/3 of dough (1 pound?? I have no idea how big the chunks were). Shape into vaguely loaf-shaped lump and let "rest" at room temp for 40 minutes. Bake at 450 for 30ish minutes.
(Except I didn't let it rest for 40 minutes the first time, because I wanted bread NOW and I didn't think it was important.)

The first three breads (from the same initial batch of dough) were a bit... dense.  They were good (and Jim could find no criticism with them, which is odd for him, but the man doesn't like bacon, so sometimes his opinion has to be discounted), but I really wasn't satisfied.

A call with my friend SG from high school set me on a better path.  Whole wheat flour, it turns out, contains a different amount of gluten from "regular" white flour or bread flour (go figure), and that has a profound effect on the bread product.  White flour has more gluten, which allows the bread to rise more, which creates a fluffier and less dense bread.  The resting phase is apparently also crucial to the final product. SG suggested mixing half whole wheat flour with half white flour or bread flour and slightly increasing the amount of water.  And also not skipping the resting period.

So I mixed up a new batch (without cleaning the bowl after the first batch, since apparently that can enhance the flavor of subsequent batches). I added 3 cups of lukewarm water to 1.5 tbsp fast-rise yeast. I added in 3 cups whole wheat flour and 3 cups all-purpose flour and about 1 tbsp salt. I stirred. I let it rise for 2 hours and OMG IT ALMOST ESCAPED THE BOWL YEAH I'LL SAY THE WHITE FLOUR MADE A DIFFERENCE WHOA.  I pushed it back from the edges of the bowl and put it in the refridgerator - for two days I think, though the amount of time shouldn't matter.

I got home tonight and a stew was simmering on the stove. Jim had gotten dinner started (mmmmm, I'm so keeping this guy).  I pulled out the bread bowl, tore out a large chunk (it didn't want to tear off - the increase in gluten definitely made a difference in the tensile strength of the dough...), plopped it on a piece of parchment paper, and let it rest for just over 20 minutes.  I put it in the oven and let it bake for just over 25 minutes at just under 450 while the stew finished simmering.  When I pulled it out of the oven, it was perfect.



Happily, at exactly that same moment, the stew was also perfectly ready to eat.



Ingredients:
  • 1.5 lbs beef, cut into chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 10 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 large parsnip, chopped
  • 1 quart turkey broth (can substitute chicken broth)
  • 1 cup sherry or white wine
  • 2 tbsp thyme
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 loaf fresh bread, preferably homemade
Directions:

Add olive oil, butter, and turkey/chicken broth to a large pot, and slowly bring to a boil while chopping everything that needs chopping. Add the beef, garlic, mushrooms, carrots, celery, onions, and parsnip as you finish chopping them. Add the wine and all the spices except the parsley. Cover, bring to a gentle boil, and cook for 60-90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add parsley about 5 minutes before serving. Serve with fresh bread, which is best dipped in olive oil with black pepper sprinkled on top. Best with a good seasonal ale or glass of red wine.



Also at exactly that same moment, I put a batch of pumpkin muffins in the oven.  I think we have achieved domestic bliss this evening.


Edit: Yes, and I did keep that coupon, because it told me to, and also I am hoping to win a raffle that will eventually be held somewhere on the internets. But more about that in the Rhinebeck post!

Second edit: muffin picture!

oceantheorem: (I believe in science)
 Life! Summer!

Both are good.

We went to the Michigan Brewer's Guild Summer Beer Festival last weekend. We went last year and had an absolute blast. This year the weather was... well, pretty terrible, actually - it was so humid and the ground was so wet it was like festivaling in a bog instead of a park - but it was at least sunny, and the beer was incredible. We tasted somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 beers in less than 5 hours, got blissfully, happpily drunk, and were able to enjoy many of our samples sitting on a dock dangling our feet in the wonderfully, refreshingly cold river.  I got sunburned. I learned that I love, love, love dark beers. The darker, the better. I will be taking this knowledge to the adorable little liquor store I discovered about twenty yards from our apartment, which has apparently been there the entire time we've lived here.  I'm observant like that.

Yesterday we went swimming at Jim's parent's house again. We've been over there once or twice a week all summer, and it's been heaven. It's still not quite enough for me to be getting into the shape I want to be in, which is frustrating, but I'm not quite motivated yet to do anything about that.  Anyway, Jim's grandma was in town for the week, so it was nice to see her one last time before she heads home to Florida. I think we'll be taking her up on her offer to go visit her once it starts snowing here.

This weekend is CBfest, something like the sixth annual.  It's basically a giant party for the members of the WoW guild I'm still in. I went last year despite not even being in the guild, and it was a blast.  They're great people, some of whom drive in from some pretty far-flung states.  It'll be a great time.

Work is amazing. Not much to say, but it's amazing. I love this job. SCIENCE!

Haven't been knitting a whole lot. I'm almost through a sock, but that's about it.  Dunno where all my knitting mojo went!  I think it's still back in 2009.  Oh well; I can't really blame it. Hopefully it will catch up with me as fall approaches.  Fall, after all, means fiber festivals!  And fiber festivals mean road trips to New England!
oceantheorem: (grad school)
 Oh. My.

Today. was. amazing.

Yesterday was my first day at my new job. I got acquainted with almost all of the lab members, learned my way around the building, met the mice, attended a lab meeting, got my own desk and lab bench... it was busy. The people are great. I love them. The lab meeting was a little over my head; I've clearly got some work to do to get back up to speed scientifically. And I never was very good about remembering details, so I think I'm going to compile a list of key terms and genes and concepts I need to know, and just keep it somewhere.

Today I had new employee orientation at 7:30 am. This was a bit ridiculous considering my commute is more than 45 minutes.  Oh well. It was a beautiful morning, and I'm so excited about this job it wasn't too hard to get up.  The orientation itself was actually really useful; I learned all about the benefits package available to me, which is substantial. I learned about parking and the shuttle system. That's going to take some time to get familiar with. I don't have the advantage of walking all over campus to classes to get familiar with the buildings, roads, and shuttle routes, so figuring out where my shuttle goes and where it stops was a little confusing today.

The lab went out to lunch today to say goodbye to a recent graduate. It was a great lunch. This lab is full of incredible people. I feel incredibly lucky to have been given this job and to be able to be back in a scientific environment with such bright, energetic people.

I actually got to do some bench research this afternoon. I learned a bit of the basics of how to work with and dissect mice (I'll leave the specifics of what we did today to my paper journal, for those of faint stomachs...) and teeeeeny tiny forceps.  What the lab does actually has to be done under a microscope. After all that time with yeast and cell culture, I thought mice were big, but no. :-P

All in all I was "at work" for almost 11 hours today. It flew by. I'm exhausted, but I was never once bored, and never once did I look at the clock wondering when I could go home.

I feel so, so, so incredibly lucky to have been given this second chance to get back into science. I don't think I fully understood when I left Yale how hard it would be to come back (well, granted, I also didn't know the economy was about to collapse). I'm grateful for the time I spent out in "the real world", because now I realize how much I belong in the lab. The contrast was sharp going in both directions (both leaving Yale and getting this job) and it's quite clear to me now that I am a scientist, all the way through, and always will be.  I still, good grief, have no idea what I want to make of that with the rest of my life, but I know now at least that I belong in a lab.

I belong in a lab!
oceantheorem: (dreams made flesh)
It's been a long week. I've worked at the ridiculous bookstore twice, and had a really annoying interview with a human resources company (oh lucky me, I will be allowed to be part of a stuffing assembly line for four days after christmas). Wednesday morning I DESPERATELY needed coffee, so of course after purchasing said coffee at 6:45 am, I took a corner too fast and spilled it all over my feet under the gas pedal. LOVELY. I went back to the gas station and the lady behind the counter gave me a refill for free after I told her I'd spilled the first one, which was super awesome and very friendly of her. But still. It was not a good way to start out the day.

On the bright side... the car has smelled vaguely like cat pee for two months, and now it smells like gas station coffee. Which is, you know, one step up. Maybe I should buy some really expensive kona coffee and spill THAT in there.

ANYWAY.

There is a new boy in my life. I feel some guilt about this (quite a lot, in fact). It is, however, largely overshadowed by my absurd happiness. I had forgotten what it was like to be happy. It's... fantastic.

In other other news... I finally got my healer druid to 80. It was painful. I miss my hunter and will be leveling her as quickly as possible once my hatred of all things warcrafty wears off (I leveled the druid way too quickly and under too much pressure. the whole game annoys me right now). But in the meantime, I can at least get back into raiding with the druid.

Also, I started playing D&D with my cousin and some of her friends. Only two of us have ever played before (my cousin and the DM), but none of us has ever played 4th edition. And the DM has never DMed. So far we are all learning the basics of how the game works, but I think we will get better quickly. I've purchased dice and a D&D player's handbook (OMG I'm a real nerd now!) and am LOVING finally being able to play. There were guys who played when I was in high school, but they never let me join them, and I've been dying to get into a group ever since.

ANYway. aNYway. anyWAY... Sorry. High school inside joke.

I need a real job. And to move to California. And then life will be absolutely perfect.
oceantheorem: (was lost now I live here)
What a week--what a summer.

Travel has completely worn me out. It feels good to be home, even if that home isn't quite the home I'm used to. The last 24 hours, since "home" and "Eliz and Ali's" became the same place, has felt a little surreal. I'm sharing a room here, and it feels a little more like camp or dorms than having an actual apartment. I dunno. Maybe going to lab tomorrow and coming home to this place will help make it feel real.

Yesterday was actually a pretty good day. A ton of people helped me move and clean, and we were actually done by 6 pm, which was a lot sooner than I'd anticipated. I took a long nap afterwards, after which Emily and Ali and I went out for drinks. It was nice to go out and feel social. We drank martinis and came back late and I slept quite well, despite the fact that when I woke up this morning I had absolutely no idea where I was.
And today was good too--mostly I lazed around and read Harry Potter 6. And now people are here and we've watched The Departed and are an hour into Children of Men (which I've seen before, and just don't quite have the energy to pay 100% attention to, since it's a pretty intense movie). I love lazy Sundays.

And now that the last few months have sunk in--my decision not to transfer, and to allow myself to settle in Connecticut--I think I'm 98% happy. I'm really enjoying grad school. Lab is going pretty well, even if I've only been back for a week, and I think I'm going to qualify this fall. I'm not even very scared of it anymore. After so much struggling and such a ridiculously awful year, the okayness of this summer feels almost startling. It's a nice contrast, and I hope that in the next five years I'll be able to keep feeling like I'm okay. Even if I'm not, I'm actually pretty content right now to just enjoy this summer for what it is, and be happy that I'm happy. Life is good for the first time in a long time, and I feel okay about 98% of it. Now, if I just knew how to stop worrying about that last 2%....

I haven't touched my knitting needles in days, but I've decided to make this (another link here). I should really work on the wedding gift instead....

P.S. I also have a thesis project! Hurrah! Ask me about it!
oceantheorem: (meredith)
This week has been madness. One long week of wonderful, ridiculous, frenetic madness.

Monday, Genetics and Cell Bio were both pretty good. The professors change almost every week, and this week's batch is, surprisingly, hilarious. So both lectures were pretty good. I think. I actually can't remember Genetics. But I liked Cell Bio. Monday afternoon was also the first meeting of the 900 class, the one associated with our rotations. That, I have decided, is the most boring waste of time ever. They had a librarian (poor thing, she obviously didn't do well speaking to large groups of people)(I just remembered I left the stove on, brb)(back) speak to us about the resources at Science Hill (we've already had the library resource talk for the med campus, which is where my lab is, so really, I couldn't care less about Science Hill library resources), which consisted mainly of her reading someone else's Powerpoint presentation to us, in a very dry, monotonous, whispery voice. I briefly considered stabbing myself with my pen to 1) stay awake and 2) make an excuse to leave, but I settled instead for attempting to solve the Sudoku in Sunday's Yale Daily News. (As an aside, I still haven't been able to solve that one, which makes me angry. It's the first Sudoku I've ever not been able to solve.) The second half of the class revolved around the NSF grant I will be writing this month. It's due November 1st, and I must write it, and I have to request transcripts from UCSC and GRE scores from ETS and dah. This is not going to be the most fun project ever.

Tuesday was better. I had colonies, which means I may have found some interesting protein sequences, and if all is lucky then when I sequence them next week they will be consensus sequences, and they will also be somewhere in my protein of interest. My advisor is really excited about these colonies, so I guess I am too. Tuesday night was also the season premiere of Gilmore Girls. I missed the first fifteen minutes, but from the online synopses I read, I don't think I missed much action. I don't know why everyone is so upset about this new writer; I thought he did a good job with this episode, and it wasn't much like last season, but no one LIKED last season. The characters seemed to be acting more like they did back in seasons 1-3, which is cool on the one hand but not as cool on the other. I don't know why no one liked last season, because I thought Rory grew a lot as a person. Yeah, the Luke daughter thing was dumb, but I liked the way Lorelai handled it--I thought it was very true to her character. And I actually liked this first episode of season 7. It was still Gilmore-y, there were plenty of quips and lots of fast talking. And it's only one episode. So everyone just needs to Calm. Down.

Wednesday was frenetic. I went to class and read a paper and went to class and stopped by lab to do another PCR because I still didn't have any bacterial colonies and I finished reading a paper and took a nap and wrote a summary and went to discussion and came home and read a paper and collapsed at 1 am.

I woke up Thursday absurdly early to finish reading the paper I'd started Wednesday night, made a ton of coffee, and went to Cell Bio seminar tired but SERIOUSLY buzzed on caffeine. I probably shouldn't have had quite so much. But class went well, and I learned a ton, and I do really like this week's professor. I went to lab afterward and had lunch with my labmates. They do crosswords at lunch, so I've been working with them, and I think I'm starting to get better. After lunch I plated some more bacteria and restreaked some yeast (more positive colonies yay!). I came home last night and watched four episodes of Lost.

Today I got up and lazed about, then walked to Starbucks to buy coffee. I forgot that I never buy regular coffee at Starbucks, so I was halfway down the block before I realized that I'd forgotten to put sugar in it. So I walked the rest of the way to the med school and spilled hot coffee all over myself because it was too strong and black to drink quickly (I can drink black coffee, and I like black coffee, but I have to drink it slowly or it overwhelms me. sugar makes it possible for me to inhale it) and for some reason I can't walk with coffee and not spill it on myself. This is a recurring problem. No, spill-proof containers do not help. I am just that uncoordinated. Anyway, I got sugar in lab, started another transformation because STILL no bacterial colonies, even with the shorter PCR template, so Susan suggested that I try transfecting them with just the vector and no insert. Maybe maybe MAYBE Monday I'll have some bacteria. In the meantime, the yeast are still looking good, although I'm not sure that the ones I restreaked yesterday are real positives.

Tomorrow there's a swing dancing lesson. Four hours of professional instruction, plus lunch, for $7. I love Yale.

Also, today I got paid, which means I can pay my rent. And I started to budget out my money and calculated in car insurance and car payment, and then realized I've ALREADY PAID THEM BOTH. My car insurance is paid up until December, and I already paid this month's car payment, so I have more money than I thought I did! You know what this means. That's right, I can afford to buy warm clothing for the absurdly cold Connecticut winter that I know is just waiting around the corner to sneak up on me when I least expect it. I'll be sitting on the lawn at the med school, eating my lunch and soaking up rays, and all of a sudden WHOMP! I'll be covered in snow.

A couple more of my cousins are getting married. There are only two of us left in my age group. I'm starting to feel like an old maid. Not that I have any desire, not even the tiniest little urge, to get married. Quite the opposite. But I'm starting to feel a bit of pressure. Like, no one wants to say it, but everyone I'm related to is thinking, "So when are you gonna settle down? Gonna have some babies and start your life?" I feel like that's not me. Family is not going to be my life. Research is my life. Expanding the scope of human knowledge is my life. And that's noble and that's cool and I'd be a horrible mother anyway. But I still feel like an old maid.

Oh yeah. Andrew (climbing Andrew) went climbing yesterday and apparently they DO sell monthly memberships, and it's a reasonable price, so I will be able to start climbing here regularly, and my budget will be able to afford that. So I need to find me an REI and finally buy me a harness, and then Climbing! All the time! Exercise and climbing and yay!

All in all, things are going extraordinarily well. I love grad school, freneticicity and all. I'm really happy. It's been a while since I've been single and this happy. It's nice to see that I can control my own life and make myself happy and I don't need to rely on men for that.

That said, I'd be a lot happier if Yale was in Santa Cruz.

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