Monday, October 16, 2006

Sticky sticky mug

I did two very grown-up things today: I got to work early and I called to setup an appointment to discuss ad nauseum me giving money to people so that I possibly won't have to give more money at some point...also known as auto and renter's insurance. Blargh. Realized later that I told the nice agenty guy that I drive an EX, when in reality I am related to someone who owns an EX and in fact drive an Si, although technically, I haven't driven it since last week because Ann Arbor has a latent hostility towards all things automotive. Which is kinda ironic, given that this is Michigan and the folksy types have banned stem cell research (banned, not just done the passive-aggressive no-federal-funding-for-you thingy) and are currently totally freaking out because Granholm has not kindly outlawed the Chinese doing things cheaper, without health insurance, and while having a shorter expected lifespan.

I've been thinking some more about the grad school schtick; specifically, what I would like to focus on. I still want to get the C.S. degree because it'd be damn useful and interesting, but I'd like to then use it to model...research...stuff...things in my PhD. Phud-wise, I'm kinda attracted to biomechanics and bones, which is ironic because skeletons still scare the shit out of me and Ishan has to be in the room for me to even fight skeletons in Oblivion. Other things I'm attracted to include the dual-focus neuroscience & bioengineering phud that Case offers because I had a damn good experience with the neuroscience lab I worked in...and I have a morbid fascination with Alzheimer's, given that I have a decent chance of doddering around a locked ward with it some day. Awesome.

I don't know what after that. I'd probably delay my decision with a post-doc.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Publish post, darn it!

So after 4 years I still don't know what I want to do, career-wise. I mean, I'm doing stuff currently which supports my addiction to eating and decent health insurance, but there's no friggin' way I could keep being a grunt beyond my early/mid-20's, if only for my self-respect (this is kinda ironic given that I have a great boss, but still...I earn my income hourly and I want something that engages me way, way more).

I'm trying to figure out what to do next, so in the interest of being as narcissistic as possible, I'm throwing together a list of Stuff I Like and Stuff I Don't Like, which I will then consult in a scientific, statistically-based way to figure out what the heck I'll do next.

Stuff I Like:
1) physics, specifically, circuits and classic Newtonian physics/mechanics
2) writing
3) working WITH people, but not where the work itself directly involves people, and where the actual core of the work is just me by myself
4) earning more than $70,000/year by the time I'm 30 OR earning more than $50,000/year but having great benefits (i.e. academic setting - discounts to gym, university events, libraries, great health insurance/retirement benefits)
5) working in a liberal, academic environment where I can inadvertently wear jeans with a hole just below the ass...and it doesn't matter
6) working at/under 50 hours a week so that I can have a life outside work
7) being in control of my schedule
8) worthwhile job, where 'worthwhile' equals doing somethin' good for humanity and receiving recognition/prestige for this occupation
9) programming
10) the camraderiewoeijrwer (sp?) of a lab environment
11) thermodynamics

Stuff I Don't Like:
1) theoretical math
2) working exclusively with just women/men
3) being a wage worker
4) pure chemistry/biochemistry
5) having to work on research animals
6) abstract humanities stuff
7) traditional biology or boring stuff like pathways and cellular components and stuff like that

I'm leaning more towards getting a PhD, but I want to get a stronger knowledge of computer science first, because I'm definitely going to need more of a solid programming and statistics background. Probably a second B.S., possibly another year of solid school after to get an M.S.(E?). PhD-wise, here're the things I'm batting around mentally:
- biomedical engineering
- bioinformatics
- computer science with a sciencey focus

My main concern about this is letters of recommendation. I didn't form a close relationship with any of my professors/TA's during college, so I don't feel comfortable really contacting any of them. Hmph.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Your cat's grumpy.

We took Eowyn to the vet yesterday afternoon. It was like being the parents of the bad kid, with the exception that you can take the bad kid home afterwards, knock some sense into 'em, and send 'em to bed without any of their mama's hard-earned cookin' to learn 'em a lesson.

So we got Eowyn into the carrier and the car without much trouble; I had hopes that she was one of those cats that becomes very stoic (or catatonic) when they go to the vet. When we got into the examining room at the vet's we let her out and she crept around, hissing at us when we tried to get close; when the vet came in and attempted to examine her, Eowyn threw in a couple of a attempted chomps and the vet decided that she'd vaccinate and draw blood from her first, /before/ she became all wound up. So this burly technician came in, threw the towel over Eowyn, and hauled her out of the room. Ishan and I stood there and, for the next five minutes, listened to her scream bloody murder while they did the needlework before bringing her back, at which point the vet observed, "Your cat's grumpy." We're then told we'd have to make a separate appointment and bring her in first thing in the morning so she can be put under before they can give her a general exam. Which will be more expensive. Blargh.

To celebrate her victory on the way back, Eowyn pooped in her brand new carrier.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Another pro-suburbs post

So around 2:40 a.m. this Saturday, Ishan and I decided that we would purchase as soon as possible a house in the suburbs and an M-16. The latter probably won't occur as our funds will be low due to our DNC, ACLU, and NPR donations, plus we're really obsessed with the steel claymores of Oblivion fame at the moment, but I consider it a viable, intelligent, and morally sound possibility*.

Blarggghhh, it's always a special moment the first time you type your new city's name followed by "police department" into Google at 2:30 a.m. Throw in that pleasant mentally squishy feeling when your prejudices are confirmed, and things are just peachy. So I live in a (relatively) swanky** apartment complex and my upstairs neighbor is a bit of an abberration from the typical renter (at least as it was presented to me): 20-30-something doctors, nurses, med/grad students, and young families. In other words, generally quiet, well-behaved people who are moderately stunned over the price of Ann Arbor housing. Meh neighbor owns a motorcycle and drives an impeccable red Firebird with "ABSOLUTE GREEK" in big block letters on the rear windshield, which I initially took to mean frat boy, but now I realize is just a really stupid thing to put on your car to celebrate your Greek heritage. Plus he generally resembles Gaius on "Battlestar Galactica," especially the hair, which I intensely dislike for sound and consistent reasons.

So we were woken up at 2:30 by an impressive amount of rhythmic squeaking immediately above us, which was quite funny for 2 minutes , but by 10 minutes (throw in extremely fake drunken female moaning) both disturbing and EXTREMELY loud. We got up, got dressed, corrected our pitiable eyesight, went upstairs, and Ishan banged on the door loudly and we had the following helpful exchange:
When we got back downstairs the drunken female partner informed us (loudly) (drunkenly) (at length and with no indication of stopping) through the ceiling of their motherfucking rights to have sex in the apartment. Hence a quick Google and call to the non-emergency department. While waiting for the police to show our neighbor came downstairs, banged our door, and kindly informed us "Don't fucking bang on my door, asshole." We didn't hear any more from the woman after this so we assume she'd passed out, and the police showed up about 10 minutes later and had a subdued conversation with them. Neighbors left sometime around noon yesterday and we haven't seen them since. Awesome.

In retrospect, maybe not the smoothest way to handle stupid frickin' noisy fuckin' in the upstairs apartment, particularly as I have 11 months more below them, but we'll see.

* If we don't shoot these deer they'll die!

** Swanky in that I have not spotted cockroaches, and the door performs all essential door functions, such as closing and not displaying an eventful history of being kicked in at some point.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Meh first work-applicable, functioning Java thingy!

So I finally, finally, /finally/ wrote something actually useful for work. Its application is ridiculously esoteric - how many people need to parse the .txt files generated by LLdata from the original .lmd data files generated by a Coulter XL flow cytometer...into a Matlab 7-friendly format? - but it. Does. Stuff.

I'm planning on heading back to central Ohio soon, as in, if not this coming weekend then the one after. It's been poking me in the back of the head, right below that little bump o' skull below my ponytail, that I miss my parents and sister and cats. Plus, I totally want to get a picture of The Best Graffiti in the World: the Face-Ass Cat*. I can state, hands down, that this was the best thing about my apartment senior year. The cockroaches certainly were a close second, as was the loneliness, the dirt, the constant having to clean up after someone despite repeatedly
speaking with them about this until finally you stop giving a damn, and the having someone start to break in /while I was there/. But hey, at least I learned the following things (lists! More lists! Always with the notarized lists!):
(a) The suburbs are, truly, awesome. Okay, maybe not Awesome, but in the suburbs you have a yard and a house and, generally speaking, fewer cockroaches and folks attempting to enter your domicile for the explicit purpose of either (1) taking everything that isn't nailed down; and/or (2) engaging in a remarkably unpleasant sexual liason with you.

And that is even better** than the Face-Ass Cat.

* You'll see.

** The suburbs, I mean. Not the rape thing.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Lists, and some B&Min'.

I haven't really written anything for fun lately - okay, qualifier on the lately: for /years/. I used to tell myself constantly during undergrad that, once I was out, I'd be doing all of sorts of impressive mind-blowing creative things. To date, these have consisted of:
(a) beating Baldur's Gate II as a mage;
(b) sprucing up my Java schkills;
(c) successfully using a crockpot (in which "success" == "not burning apartment down and ruining credit rating");
(d) mentally bitching and moaning at length about how I have no time to do impressive mind-blowing creative things.

Furthermore, I have invested a frickin' ridiculous number of ranks into Total Fogeyhood. Here are some of the things which I can now not only define, but discuss ad nauseum and have personal relationships with that are more deep than most of my remaining friendships:
(a) mutual funds and 401(b)'s;
(b) medical co-payments;
(c) the importance of a high fiber diet.

So what does happen when I finally sit down to write? NOTHIN'. AHAHAHAHAHA. Frickin' gods!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Eowyn the Bizarro-Cat

Okay, so the first draft of this post was going to be some maudlin whinging about how I have no time to be me. Instead I decided to go with whatever this will be - I haven't fully decided yet.

Ishan and I have been suckered into adopting Eowyn (a la LOTR - Ishan named the little bugger), a perfectly typical cat in that she is emotionally inexplicable and thrives upon inconveniencing her owners. More concretely, Eowyn's a scrawny tortoiseshell with really long legs who - we assume - was abandoned by her owner, who had at some point cared enough to declaw all four paws, have her spayed, and put a beaten-up little red collar on her. She started hanging around a lot about 5 weeks ago and we can only assume that she was dumped by someone whose lease expired around August and who couldn't be inconvenienced in the slightest to drive her to the Humane Society*. Among her favorite things to do are sleeping on our feet at night, trying to bury her water bowl, and biting us randomly. Typical cat.

* Speaking of which, I'll be volunteering here 1-2x a week as "General Help" and a "Cat Comforter" once I've been properly acquainted with what are the pointy and poopy ends in my Cat Comforter Orientation. Hopefully 22 years of cat ownership and experience will help me with this.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Are you kidding? It's DEADLY POISON

So about a month ago when I first started work I spilled something - I forget what, exactly, which was my first step towards that slippery slope under the "Darwin Award" banner - on my trusty old gray jacket. It's my favorite running/schlepping around the house thingy for uncommitted fall weather, and I probably shouldn't've worn it to work today as it has just failed the Hole Test. Whatever the heck I spilled has eaten a hole away in the sleeve, causing my a great deal of distress in that I don't feel terribly distressed and am, in fact, wearing it at the moment and resting my wrist directly over the affected region.

Slip, slip.

Work is fairly basic sciencey today. During the next incubation period on this ELISA (an assay for protein concentration based on light absorption comparisons between the unknown samples and the known values of the standards; notable mainly for its long incubation periods) I'm going to touch some more programming, and start reading through my dusty ol' "Elementary Differential Equations and Boundary Value Problems," which promises to be as enthralling as it is syllablic.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

For anyone interested in growing miniature trees in pots...

There's inherently something trippy about bonsai, and I think that line from the Ann Arbor Bonsai Society pretty much sums it up.

As to why I was looking up people who grow big things in tiny things for recreational purposes, I am settled well enough into Ann Arbor now to start becoming restless and wanting to make new life-long friends with as little inconvenience to myself as possible. My ACTION!!! plan for this is extremely stealthy and ninja-like in that it involves stealthiness, but non-ninja-like in that it involves, so far, few swords and slimming black outfits and intergenerational vendettas. I consider it stealthy and sexy because my plan consists of taking community classes and participating in other community things, like groups and zoning laws, which require regular attendance and a focus on something else other than the actual socializing involved, because then nobody will know I'm secretly there to socialize. Ha! This is brilliant, and permits me to totally avoid uncomfortable things like talking to strangers in which the only point is talking with them, as opposed to, say, the best way to grow a really big thing in a moderately tiny thing for entertainment.

I don't know if I'm totally down with moderately tiny things, so currently I'm considering the following stealthy courses of ACTION!!!:

Humane Society Volunteer
Why it gets adopted: My heart strings, which are wound as tightly as possible due to liberal union safety standards, have been twanged by enough stray cats running about various neighborhoods for me to want to do somethin'. Plus, it's free.
Why it gets euthanized: "Moderate cat allergies" might become more dramatic, and I just spent a year studying the merry hell chronic inflammation wrecks on human cartilage, nevermind the precious, precious face.

Introductory Chinese
Why it gets happy comrade points: I'm genuinely interested in Chinese culture and language, and this will permit me to be grammatically correct when I greet our Mandarin-speaking overlords and request to be not forcibly sterilized. Plus it's twice a week on weekdays, which is good because practice is necessary for my inflexible English-thinkin' brain.
Why it gets an irreversible hysterectomy: Costs $125 for a five-week session. Only five weeks.

Japanese Calligraphy
Why it dominates consumer electronics: Half the cost of IC, and I can actually put something up on my wall at the end other than, say, a practice worksheet.
Why it falls into economic recession: Only 5 weeks, still costs money, plus it's only something I'm moderately interested in. Additional mild concerns about the class being full of creepy Otaku trying to pick up a Japanese girlfriend.

Honorable mention: Beginner Knitting, Beginner Woodworking, some sort of cooking or gardening courses, etc.

Monday, July 31, 2006


I was offered - through some fit of d20 diplomacy check law-of-averages madness - the first position I interviewed for, and had pretty much made up my mind to accept it by the time I went through a 3+ hour interview with /every/ lab member in another lab. I was really impressed with the PI and her work and staff, although in the end I decided that, while the science was cutting-edge and sound, I was more interested in the computational stuff offered by the first job. So far my entrance into Grownuptood has been kinda gimpy, although things have been slowly working out; I've had spotty communication with my PI for the job I accepted (as a "Research Technician Intermediate") as he's just rocketted into parenthood, something that, from what I understand, involves a ludicrous average amount of time per pound of offspring (inverse relationship, probably). I start my official job next week with 1.5 days of orientation awesomeness, during which they will tell me about incredibly important dull things like health insurance while periodically beating us young new graduates so we stop making up works like "awesomeness" in the first place. Or something like that. I will be there, moderately sweaty from my bike ride in on a 90+ F morning, complete with my Hermione Grangeresque notebook, pencils, pens, eraser, calendar, and obnoxiously fastidious attitude.