Thursday, December 29, 2005

Dressing and Packing (it's not what you think)

I should warn you that this post is going to get very long. I hope you are in a comfortable chair with a good beverage. Maybe don't be eating anything though, it's going to get gross.

I got to Minneapolis Wednesday afternoon and spent the afternoon with my dad and stepmom. When it came time to pick up my stepsister from school I went and surprised her. She introduced me to her HOT HOT HOT teacher and showed me her gingerbread house she made.

Thursday I went and visited my great grandma. She's a firecracker. That must be where I get it from. Then my mom, stepdad and I went to the Mall of America (aka the "Big Mall") to watch the last minute shoppers. We were all done with our shopping, but I'm used to taking walks everyday so the 1.5 total miles walking around each level provided me with my daily dose.

Thursday also was the day my stepmom got word that her dad was in his final days. He has been sick for some time, but it was obvious it was time to go say goodbye. She, Dad and my stepsister flew to New York to be with him Friday afternoon. I don't know when they'll be back or if I'll even be able to see them before I leave town on Saturday. That makes me pretty sad.

Friday I spent the day with Dean's mom and her sister, brother-in-law, neice and Dean's brother. We baked cookies and candy which has become a tradition for us over the past few years. Every year we get more elaborate with our recipes and presentation. The treats are my trademark gift for family so I don't have to shop and drag presents up here (except for close family) and everyone looks forward to them.

Saturday my mom, stepdad and me went to my aunt and uncle's house for a yummy Christmas Eve dinner. I got to see my grandma and grandpa along with my aunt and uncle and two cousins. It was a fun, relaxing time filled with the peace only felt when you are among family.

Christmas day I went and took some treats and some Chinese take-out to my dad's mom who has Alzheimer's. Dad was nervous about leaving her while he is in New York. I've been calling frequently and bringing her groceries to get her through til he comes home. My grandma is an amazing woman, who along with the other women in my family will get their own posts sometime soon. After visiting with my grandma we had my stepdad's parents, sister, brother-in-law and nephew over for Christmas. They are always a good time. We have a family tradition of sneaking over-the-top religious memorabelia into eachother's house. My cousin tried to plug in a Virgin Mary night light. My mom saw the night light in the spare bedroom, unplugged it and dropped it in my aunt's purse. As far as I know that's where it is now.

Now, onto the good stuff. First, let me fill you in on my problems from the beginning. About 6 weeks ago I noticed a lump under my arm. At first it didn't hurt but then it grew to about the size of a peanut m&m. Fearing armpit cancer, I went to the doctor who diagnosed me with a small infection and gave me some antibiotics. Okay, fast forward to last Monday when I started to get a similar lump on my waistline. It started very small and I figured it would go away on its own. If it hadn't gone away by the time I got back to Tampa, I would take the rest of the anibiotics and maybe see the doctor again. The peanut m&m stage came and went until it was a rather large red and purple bump with tendrils eminating from it. I didn't tell anyone about it until Christmas Eve day when I pulled down the waist of my pants for my mom and said, "Do you think I need to have this looked at?" She gasped, regained composure and said, "Yeah, we may want to get you to a doctor. It's not going to wait til you get back." Christmas day it really started to hurt bad and that night it ruptured. It was disgusting. Since my mom and stepdad both work for the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) pharmacy we went to their urgent care clinic yesterday. The nurse took one look at my "wound" and sent me to the emergency room. The county ER is an interesting place. The hour or so I spent waiting was very entertaining. There were people moaning and screaming, most of whom my parents recognized as "frequent pharmacy visitors" who often "accidently drop their Vicadin down the toilet." One frequent visitor said he thought he had Menengitis. He was still waiting to be seen when I left. I watched the juvies pick up garbage outside until I got called back and put in a room. A nurse came in and interviewed me and gave me a gown to wear and some warm blankets. A doctor came in, looked at the damage and assigned a resident to me. The resident said he needed a wound culture. If anyone ever says they need to do this to you run away as fast as you can. Oh my God I've never experienced such pain. The nurse gave me a shot of painkiller that made my arm muscles spazz out. While I was observing this phenomenon, the resident drove a huge cotton swab into my sore and wiggled it around causing me to scream like a baby. They determined I had no strange diseases, just a boil. The resident came back in my room wheeling in a laceration cart. That scared the crap out of me and I said, "How bad is this going to hurt?" The resident said, "Not at all-if I do it right..." and laughed. He gave me a local anesthetic and cut out the infected tissue, leaving a large, deep gaping hole on my abdomen. That had to be packed with antiseptic gauze and dressed with more gauze and tape. I got sent away with two types of antibiotic and some Tylenol with codeine.

That night despite my "wound" which I took the liberty of upgrading to an "incision" my mom and stepdad and me went to the Timberwolves game where my poor Wolves got trampled by the Suns. Ugh.

I think I will stop here and tell the rest of my so-called "vacation" next time.

As a preview- let me just say I was back in the ER this morning. Poor me!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Thank you, Judge Jones

"To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions."
-U.S. District Judge John Jones in his ruling
against the teaching of Intelligent Design
in Pennsylvania public classrooms

It's Christmas Time in the Lab

Today is my last day at work for two weeks. I need to get stuff done before I can leave but distractions are abounding. We have Christmas music blaring (Harry Connick Jr.), we're drinking coffee and eating Christmas cookies and the worst distraction of all: the cutest twelve year old girl ever. My undergraduate student has been bringing her in since school is out and she wants to be a physicist when she grows up like her mom. Rock on! Instead of doing paperwork and working on my resume we are having fun with magnets making field lines with iron filings and playing with ferrofluids. She is not helping to supress the maternal instincts that have been kicking in the last six months or so.
I'm almost ready for trip to the great North tomorrow. A 10 day whirlwind tour of family and friends. Like many children of my generation, I have parents, step-parents, grandparents, step-grandparents, aunts, uncles and step aunts and step-uncles and cousins and step-cousins. I've always had the opinion that I'm lucky to have so many people caring for me, my family is really twice as big. But it also makes for complicated holidays, lots of shuffling back and forth which is compounded by the fact that I don't hacve a car of my own when I go up there. Even if I did, I haven't driven in snow and ice for 3 years which would make me hesitant.
I also must build in time for my three bestest friends- my girls from college. Every time I am in town it is a party of epic proportions starting with catching up, then reminiscing then devolving into utter silliness and resulting in a puppy-pile of passed out girls. Unfortunately as the years pass, the silliness lasts not as long and the passing out comes much earlier. Sometime I will have to write about our crazier experiences, though not our craziest ones: those are locked in the vault.
I must get back to work. I will try to write from my igloo!

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Dean has a bad cold. I felt bad for him at first. Now I want to shove a balled up sock in his mouth the next time he asks me to go get something for him. The last time he said, "Frey, I'm sick!" I said, "Dean, I'm well aware of that!" And he countered with "My mom doesn't crab at me when I'm sick." It's going to be a loooong weekend.

There are two sort of good things about him being sick. One is that when he is sick he sleeps as much as I do when I'm healthy. The house was silent for twelve hours last night while he, the kitties and I slept the sleep of the sick, the feline and sleep-lover. The other thing that's sort of good about the Sick One is that he requested Panera for dinner last night AND lunch today. I loooooove Panera. I could eat a 1/2 Fandango salad, bowl Garden Vegetable soup, and a sourdough roll with a glass of iced green tea for every meal of my life.

Unfortunately I will be dateless to Dr. Hari's holiday party tonight. Every year my advisor has a holiday party where his wife cooks an enormous Indian feast and there is no "shop talk" allowed. He, the post doc and one of the graduated students all have little kids so its always fun to have them running around while we talk sports, politics, culture and everything else except physics. Last year Dr. Hari and Dean got sloppy drunk and bonded when Dr. Hari confessed that I'm his favorite. But that's just between you and me.

Well, I am off to the Depths of Hell, a.k.a. the Ghetto Mall to do some Christmas shopping. I need to get out of this plague-ridden house to keep my health and my sanity for next week's trip.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

This n That

I'm all done with finals! Yay! No more tests or homework EVER!

I posted that quote on Sunday to let people ponder the notion of collectivism and I was overwhelmed by the discussion that has ensued. Everyone interprets things in different ways, and I posted it because I was struck at how much the quote could apply to today's society. The lack of drive to keep up with current events was what I was referring to, though the discussion veered off course. The fact that people were willing to engage in such a discussion obviously proves me wrong. I now believe that we are in no danger of becoming a collectivist society as long as there are people like Scott, lefty_grrl and my dad out there. Thank you guys! As a footnote, I got the quote from the introduction that Ayn Rand wrote to her book, Anthem, which was our book club selection for this month. Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism is not political and she shunned governemt of any form. The quote and her philosophy refers to objectivism on a more rudamentary level. Wikipedia defines it as being characterized as such:

1. That man must choose his values and actions by reason;
2. That the individual has a right to exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing self to others nor others to self; and
3. That no one has the right to seek values from others by physical force, or impose ideas on others by physical force.

Anyway, those of you who wish to continue the thread politically or otherwise are more than welcome to do so. However, at the risk of alienating some of my readers, I thought I had better take this opportunity to present something not as, well, heavy.

The countdown is on to my trip up to the frozen tundra. One week from today. I am so excited to see my family and friends. But I hate the cold. My God do I hate the cold. I am ready to be spoiled by my family and Dean's family, eat yummy food (without actaully having to cook it OR pay for it), drink yummier wine, see how my stepsister and cousins have grown, catch up with the three classiest broads I know, go see the Timberwolves (and my boyfriend, KG) and forget about work!
But going home always brings me mixed feelings. Moving away from my family was so painful for me. People sometimes assume that only people who aren't strongly tied to their families move away, but that isn't true. I am just as close if not closer to my family than anyone I know and every time I leave Minneapolis I am confronted with the same pain all over again. The pain of knowing how much time must pass before I can see these people again. Knowing that in the meantime things might change. But at the same time, I am so happy to be living down here. Experiencing a new part of the country, a part of the country that doesn't make me suicidal for 4 months of the year. I know we won't be down here forever, and I think it will be neat to describe this life to our kids one day. They'll learn that their mom and dad struck out on their own and had an adventure- a four or five year adventure- and hopefully they'll do the same.

Okay, enough rambling. Time to start catching up on work I've pushed aside the last few days.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Something for you to Chew on While I'm Studying for Finals

"The greatest guilt today is that of people who accept collectivism by moral default; the people who seek protection from the necessity of taking a stand, by refusing to admit to themselves the nature of that which they are accepting; the people who support plans specifically designed to achieve serfdom, but hide behind the empty assertion that they are lovers of freedom, with no concrete meaning attached to the word; the people who believe that the content of ideas need not be examined, that principles need not be defined, and that facts can be eliminated by keeping one's eyes shut."

-Ayn Rand, 1946

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

blegh (or End of Semester Blues/Crazies/Funk)

I feel like a whale.
I can't seem to get enough sleep.
I'm sick of thinking about superconductivity.
I want to read a novel.
I need a haircut.
The counter top is a mess.
My research isn't going the way I want it to.
I miss my parents.
I haven't started my Christmas shopping yet.
There's nothing in the fridge.
I hate cheerleaders.
I think there's a leak in my front tire.
I'm worried I'll get sick for finals next week. I didn't get a flu shot.
I'm sick of cleaning out the litter boxes.
I miss baseball.
I haven't read a Frank Rich column in two weeks.
I lost an earring.
I want to scream.

Thanks for listening.
I'll be me again in a week.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Dysfunctional Materials

A couple of months ago, Dr. Hari officially changed the name of our research lab from the Materials Physics Laboratory to the Functional Materials Laboratory, as "functional materials" is the new term for "applied materials" and the buzzword for getting funding.
Well, as you may guess it was a very short leap to Dysfunctional Materials Lab which is fitting. Us grad students spend 9-10 hours a day in very close quarters. We travel together and go through very stressful times together. We are protective of each other and are unable to hide anything from each other. In short we are very much like a family, and like most families we consider ourselves to be slightly dysfunctional.

Take for instance yesterday, when one of my labmates-we'll call him Cheesehead to protect his privacy- came to the lab proudly showing off his new tackle box that he bought to hold his sample preparation tools. Since he makes samples in the next building over, I admit this was a good idea. It was the execution of the idea that created issues.

He spent the better part of an hour loading up his tackle box with things from around the lab. When he called me over to check it out, I took issue with his blatant monopolizing of two pairs of tweezers.

Me: Cool, Cheesehead. Are you going to leave those tweezers in there or are you going right now to make a sample?

Cheesehead: I thought I'd leave them in here so I don't forget them whenever I go over to NNRC.

MB: But that pair right there is my favorite pair of tweezers.

CH: Well, when you need them they're in the box on my desk. Help yourself.

MB: Why can't you just leave them in the community drawer with the others and take them when you need them?

CH: Why can't we leave them in my tackle box and you can take them when you need them?


Five minutes later-

MB: You know, Cheesehead, it's really giving me anxiety that you are planning on keeping my favorite tweezers in your tackle box. You lose everything.

CH: Really? It's driving you nuts? Good. Here. How about this?

He storms into the other room and opens the drawer full of the remaining tweezers, grabs a handful and puts them in his tackle box.

CH: And while I'm at it, I'm taking a ceramic boat too.

He never uses the ceramic boats. They're mostly for my stuff to sit in while they're being cooked at 900 degrees Celsius.

MB: Cheesehead, you jerk! Put that back! You don't even use that!

CH: I'm taking your diamond scribe too.

MB: Oh, no. You DIDN'T just take my diamond scribe. I swear to God, Cheesehead. I will beat your ass.

CH: Try it.

Well, Cheesehead is about 6'3" and 220 lbs so I new very well I couldn't actually beat his ass. I settled for feebly slapping his arm and stomping back to my desk. I also threw in a "I'm telling Dr. Hari you took my diamond scribe. "

This morning when I came into work the ceramic boat, the diamond scribe and most of the tweezers were back where they belong. My favorite pair however is still in the tackle box.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Two VERY Long Years

This is Wrigley.

We got him two years ago today.

The morning after Thanksgiving, Wrigley literally walked into our lives. He woke us up with his crying. I opened the front door to see what the commotion was all about and there he was at the door. Roughly 10 weeks old and besides himself. We fed him, and let him hang out for a couple hours. We thought we'd use him as an experiment to see if Nellie would tolerate a kitten before his owner came looking for him.

After a while it was obvious no one was actively looking for him. And we were in love. We knocked on some doors, but everyone seemed to be gone for the long weekend. We both knew the right thing to do was try to find his owners. I made a sign and hung it up by the mailboxes. It said:

Kitten found. Please call 123-4567.

Night came and he slept on my chest while Dean slept on the couch, scared of crushing him. The next day, we took the sign down. He and Nellie seemed to be getting along and since we got Nellie as an adult I had completely forgotten what it was like to have a kitten around. For a full week he didn't have a name. Dean, being the eternal sports fan threw out tons of athletes' names, past and present. I objected to all of them. He objected to all of my ideas as well. Finally, he said, "I got it. His name will be Wrigley." Perfect.

Wrigley is an odd creature. I say creature because Dean and I often speculate that he's not even a cat. We joke he's half cat, half ferret (a "carrot") or any combination of obscure felines and primates. He bites, howls, fetches (yep, he fetches!), greets us at the door, keeps us awake all night. He clicks at things he sees outside, kills moths in the house by jumping up and clapping them. He splashes in the sink, walks along every surface in the house, steals balled up socks, spoons with us. He's neurotic about bathing himself and others but a messy eater. He chatters incessantly when he's bored and pitifully drags around a string for us in hopes we'll play with him. He's adorable, scary smart, infuriating, and I couldn't imagine my life without him.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Every Friday the department hosts a guest speaker. Through various connections to our faculty, it is usually someone doing work very similar to one group in the department. This person is flown in to Tampa, and on that Friday they spend the day touring the research labs, catching up with whomever brought them here, being treated to lunch and extensive butt-kissing. At 4 pm the department gathers in the lecture hall for coffee and cookies while the visitor gives his/her talk on his/her research. Of course, in the winter months the talk usually begins with, "Dr. So-and-so really twisted my arm to come to Florida in January!" We all chuckle and settle in for ten minutes of intense concentration followed by fifty minutes of total zoning out.

A couple of months ago, my advisor flew in a professor from the University of Minnesota, my alma mater. I didn't know Dr. L when I was there. He works in my field which wasn't my field until I moved down here. Anyway, when Dr. L walked into my lab, I was immediately struck by an intense attraction to him. This is rare among fellow physicists as they are usually not known for their prowess with the opposite sex. I was tongue-tied, blushing and besides myself. He had piercing blue eyes that paralyzed me beyond my capacity to function. All this at 9 am. What was it about this man that I found irresistible? He looked exactly like Dean. Exactly. But he was a physicist. Specializing in magnetic materials. And he had a British accent. Dr. Hari described a project we're working on involving chromium oxide, which has been my pet project for a year now. Dr. L seemed to find this particular project very interesting because it tied in closely with some of his work. That week, my usual zoning out during the presentation was replaced with elaborate fantasizing.

Anyway, in a lab meeting last week we discussed plans for the APS spring conference in Baltimore. Dr. Hari informed me that I would be presenting work from that project in a special focus section. Organized and chaired by Dr. L. I could barely speak one on one with this man, how am I going to be a presenter in his focus session? Oh the drama! To top it all off, I got an email from Dr. Hari this morning letting me know that Dr. L ("You remember Dr. L, right? From the University of Minnesota?" Ya think?!) would be co-chairing the session with Dr. S, my personal hero. If I am a Magnetbabe, she is the Magnet Goddess. Her magnetic materials textbook is my bible. I've read all her papers. I totally stalked her at last year's APS in Los Angeles, too nervous to actually introduce myself and tell her that I absolutely worship her. I am nervous already and the conference is four months away! What if she tells me I'm a hack and my research sucks? What if she tells me to give up and go work at McDonald's? I'm going to be a wreck.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Fried Toroids

Dear Friend who I ate lunch with today,
I am so happy to hear that you finally started reading my blog. I thought you would like it, but more importantly you can now read what everyone else is raving about (by "everyone" I mean the one other mutual friend of ours that reads this on a regular basis). Like I said, I mostly started this as a way to keep my "Nothern" friends and family updated, but it's also for Florida friends and now other friends I've met out in the blogosphere. But after talking to you today I realize there are things I may forget to tell you about Dean or the kitties or converstaions I had with my mom where she uses a bunch of graphic language (just teasing- I love you, Mom!). In that sense it is still a very useful means of communication between people who talk on a regular basis.
And, to answer your question, I believe once a physicist, always a physicist. We tend to be an accepting community (as we should be, have you seen some of our members?!) and once a member, you're in for life. Kinda like how I said that that even though I do not practice and want little to do with the Catholic church, I have been baptized, confirmed and given communion. I will (unfortunately) be a Catholic forever. As a consequence, the Exorcist will always scare the piss out of me. You know that big Masters' degree hanging in your house? That's your baptism into the church of physics. And even if some day you do have to get a job deep frying toroids of dough and sprinkling them with sugar, the fact that you know they are toroids will be enough to remind you of what you are.
Your friend,

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Street Credit

Our bed sits with my side directly beneath the window. For the most part, I like this arrangement because in the fall and winter months the night breeze comes through the window and blows across my face. The kitties really like sitting in the bedroom window, but to get to it they have to jump on the bed, which can be a little disruptive when we're sleeping. Usually the extent of the disruption comes with tails swishing in my face. A couple nights ago there was a cat fight outside our window, causing our cats to freak out. Wrigley came flying to the window, jumped, on the bed lost his footing and ended up puting two scratches on my face. The next morning I stumbled out of bed and walked in the living room to find Dean watching TV and drinking coffee.

"Nice scratches."

"Ugh. Wrigley."

"Does that mean you have street credit with the other crazy cat ladies?"

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Week in Review

There were some little things that happened this week, some of which I meant to blog about but I never actually sat down and wrote anything out. Soooo, here are some highlights of my week:

I got a 35/36 on my magnetism test. I'm not one to brag and I find it unattractive when other people do so. But I just can't help myself because this class is really hard and I'm the only girl, thus making it imperative for me to stress how very awesome I am.

I went to the gym Monday morning and outside the gym a guy wearing a surgical mask was preaching at the few people out and about at 6:30 on a Monday. He was yelling his opinions very aggressively so I decided to just ignore him. At some point I was pretty sure he was trying to directly address me and when I still ignored him he called me a "weak-ass atheist bitch." That was definitely a first for me.

Tuesday I finished Interpreter of Maladies for book club later that night. All I have to say about that book is IF YOU HAVEN'T READ IT DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND READ IT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. It was beautiful. It's a collection of short stories each about different characters but there is such a tangible thread running through it that it read like a novel. I have long had an interest in India and Indian culture, even more so since I now work with so many Indian scientists. I also read a lot of books by Indian authors mostly because in general I find their type of prose very lyrical and wonderful to read. The stories in Interpreter of Maladies were about the Indian-American condition. There was a symmetry to it so that I felt like by the end of the book the theme was thoroughly explored. There were stories about Indians in America, Americans in India, American women in love with Indian men (and vice versa) along with young American children's' exposure to Indian culture and any other combinations I haven't mentioned. And every story was a gem.

Tuesday night we had our first meeting at the library in a local temple. I couldn't find the temple so at 7:35 I called a Jewish girlfriend of mine to ask her where the heck I was going. I began the conversation by saying, "You're Jewish, where's the ____ library?!" She didn't know the exact intersection but she narrowed it down. I thought I found it then asked, "Wait. Do you guys have steeples?" To which she patiently replied, "No, we don't. You must be at ______ Church. Turn around and go East about a block." Thanks, friend, for your patience towards this ex-Catholic-turned agnostic confused girl.

When I got there, our leader informed us that she called Borders to let them know that we wouldn't be using their cafe to have our club and that we were not coming back until at least after the holiday season. The district manager politely informed her that we were not welcomed back as Borders was a retail-oriented chain in the business of making money, not hosting local meetings. "A small, privately-owned bookstore or coffee house would be more than happy to accommodate you." Too bad Tampa doesn't have those. Corporate bastards!

Wednesday one of the dumpster kitties died. I still don't know exactly what happened. I did my best and I hope it enjoyed its short time on this Earth.

Thursday Dr. Hari agreed to buy me a $15,000 toy for my research. I have the best advisor ever!

Thursday I also got it in my head that I needed new glasses. I mostly wear contacts but about once every two weeks I wear my glasses and the boys in my lab go nuts. Apparently I am wildly attractive when I wear my glasses. Not that I care all that much how attractive I am to the dorky boys in my lab (sorry, guys!) but I figured, why not wear my glasses more often if I'm more comfortable in them and people think I look good in them? But I can't see well out of my glasses anymore so I decided to just get new, trendy fun glasses (and sunglasses) and give my eyes a rest. So, as it happens whenever I get something stuck in my head I had to get new glasses right away or I would just die. So I got an appointment with the eye doctor today. It turns out I really needed new glasses and I picked out really cute Anne Klein frames and Ray Ban Rx sunglasses. However, it seems that Lens Crafters claim of new glasses in about an hour does not apply if you are blind as a bat. So I have to wait 7-10 days for my new glasses.

Now you are all caught up. Now all I have to do is get caught up on what everyone else has been up to...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A Word About Plato

When I was a freshman at the University of Minnesota many years ago, I took a class on Greek and Roman mythology to satisfy one of my history requirements. I was very interested in the course at the time and had a huge crush on the TA who was a rugged, punk, intellectual type that was way too interested in his female students. Anyway, I don’t use what I learned in that class on a regular basis, but I remember the material surprisingly well. One thing in particular that I often find myself thinking about is an essay written by Plato, outlining his idea of what happens to us before we are born. Plato thought that all the unborn souls live in some other place (I’ll call it Heaven even though I don’t think he did) waiting to be born. They decide on the human form they will take by being shown a series of images of lives they can lead from which they choose the life they like best. The souls are only shown a glimpse of these lives so they are not aware of the hardships that inevitably accompany each life. When they catch a glimpse of who they want to be, they pick that life and are born into it.

As a freshman in college I initially underestimated Plato’s theory. I thought, “Okay, but what about people that are disfigured? Mentally challenged? All-around miserable? Isn’t it an affront to them to presume their souls chose this life?” The beauty of the theory is that there are fleeting moments either in the past or in the future where their souls are happy, at peace, in a life someone might choose if only for a moment. I am not religious. I can’t even really pretend to be very spiritual as I have no answers to why we are greater than the sum of our parts. But for some reason, I really like Plato’s theory. And I still think about it a lot.

The other night I was driving home from a satisfying day at work. I had the windows down, letting the warm, November breeze of Florida blow through my hair. To my left the sun was setting causing streaks of pink and purple to ribbon through the sky. I was excited to go home and see the love of my life, and our little cat family in our quaint apartment. It’s moments like this I think of Plato’s essay and think, “this must have been what I saw when I was still in Heaven.”

And to those of you who want to put something clever in the comments: No, I am not high. Just happy.

Monday, October 31, 2005


I don't have anything deep or provocative to say today. No profound thoughts or rants about how children should be raised or how women are oppressed even today. I just feel like I should check in since I've been slacking off in the posting department.
Here's what I've been up to the last couple of weeks.
Working like crazy. Before I got my Master's degree (a year ago this Friday!) I never worked this hard. I feel like the stereotypical grad student with hardly any personal time, constantly losing track of finances, keys, time, etc. Last weekend I worked the whole time. I got some good data though and my advisor went out of his way to email me and congratulate me on it, which made it all worthwhile.
Sunday night/Monday morning hurricane Wilma came. I don't want to downplay Wilma's fury because I know the other coast is really having problems. However, I slept through hurricane Wilma. I was all wound up about it, and then I slept through the whole thing. I got the day off work though on Monday which was good.
This past weekend was very fun. Friday night I met a friend's much-talked-about new girlfriend. The three of us had drinks and then went and saw In Her Shoes. I really liked the new girlfriend. She reminded me of my college roommate, which made me a little melancholy and made me miss her, but hopefully I made a new friend Friday. In Her Shoes was cute and a lot like the book (which was why I wanted to see it). Not too much to think about, perfect after a couple of beers and a hard week at work.
Saturday I watched my Gophers get spanked by Ohio State. It was close until the fourth quarter when everything came unraveled. For awhile I thought, no FANTASIZED, that the Gophers would make it to the Outback bowl here in Tampa and I could go and it would be awesome. But then I remember that it always seems possible through the first 5 or 6 weeks of the season and then things go downhill for my Gophers.
Yesterday I FINALLY got to go see Bodies. It was very cool. I don't have a whole lot to say about the exhibit without going into utter, excruciating, gruesome details. My one comment is this: Wow, the human liver is way bigger than I ever expected. Okay, that's it. Dean went with me and he held up very well. Not icked out or anything. One time he said he couldn't handle it and it had something to do with male reproductive disorders. He made me proud.
Nothing else new for me.
I hope everyone has a happy, safe Halloween!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Me Getting on my Soapbox about Role Models

“With the seventh pick in the first Fantasy Physics draft, team Natalie selects…discoverer of Cepheid variables and cosmic expansion…namesake of the most powerful telescope in history…attorney, astronomer and Hollywood playboy…Edwin Hubble!” I pick up the card to an eruption of applause and laughter.

It’s the first draft for our Fantasy Physics teams. A lab mate of mine got a set of physicist trading cards in his latest issue of Physics Teacher magazine. He and I are the only sports fans in the lab, so the first day he got them he came up to me with his stack of cards and said, “I’ll trade you a Marie Curie for your Torii Hunter rookie.” I laughed, grabbed the cards and mockingly put them in to two piles saying “Got it, got it, need it need it, got it, need it,…” A few days later he decided it would be fun to share the cards by letting me and the other lab mates draft for “teams.” We’re not sure how we’re actually going to play games or anything, but the hype is pretty big.

Of course, this is fun but it is all tongue-in-cheek. But why is it so funny? Is it inconceivable that people should feel about science the way they feel about sports? I’m not a complete idealist, but the recent “Love Boat” incident on Lake Minnetonka has caused me to step back and critically look at the way we feel about sports.

I started by realizing my mild irritation at the fact that the story just hasn’t gone away yet. Not because I’m such a die-hard Vikings fan. In fact I have sort of a love-hate attitude towards my hometown team. An attitude that isn’t improving as a result of their utter self-destructive season so far. I believe the reason for the refusal to let this story go (on a national level, I don’t even get to see Minneapolis news anymore) is two-fold. The first reason is good, old-fashioned media overkill. The second is richer, more complex and goes much deeper than simple sensationalism. The reason we can’t let it go is that we feel disappointed in people we consider to be our heroes, and we want them to know about it.

My first response to the story was to say to myself, “Football players are young men who usually grow up in underprivileged environments who all of a sudden find themselves with more money than they ever dreamed of. I’m so not surprised by this.” Of course, I’m not a parent whose son or daughter goes around wearing jerseys with said football players’ names on them.

People are angry because football players and athletes in general are our heroes and role models to our children. Role models don’t go around performing lewd acts on cruise ships or urinating in people’s yards. My response to this is: Why are these people role models to our youth? We aren’t trying hard enough to be role models ourselves so we give that task to people of exemplary physical skill and get upset when they let us down. There are plenty of athletes who do amazing things for their communities, and those things are far from being overlooked. But there are other members of any community that deserve to be looked upon in the same light, people our children should look at and say, “That’s who I want to be like.” Furthermore, a person doesn’t have to be particularly active in one’s community to be a role model. I try to be a role model to my stepsister and younger cousins by showing that girls make good scientists and that science isn’t just a subject in school, it is an understanding of the world around us. I try to be a role model by showing that the world is bigger than your backyard, but not too big as to be inaccessible. You have to make your own adventures and the journey can be more rewarding than the endpoint.

I, in turn, have several role models that I still look up to. Some are scientists, some are parents. Some have overcome financial hardships, some have fought physical illnesses, some emotional illnesses. All have amazing stories that have nothing to do with how fast they can run or how high they can jump. While I fully enjoy sports as entertainment, life is full of much more interesting people that the people that fill our screens on Sunday afternoons.

I am fully aware that my child will probably not agree with me when they are young. They won’t walk around wearing a jersey that says “Einstein ‘05” and they’d most likely be given wedgies at school if they did. I’m also not saying that I can completely succeed in being the role model I attempt to be to the young people in my life. But I think we all can do a better job of being role models, instead of expecting others to behave themselves.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Inappropriate Behavior in Public

This week, an incident so scandalous as to put Bill and Monica to shame sent shock waves through the Midwest. Two cruise ships filled with Minnesota Vikings players, their friends and some “hired help” set out on Lake Minnetonka only to return 90 minutes later. Apparently the players engaged in a plethora of sexual activities not behind closed doors, but out in the open for cruise workers to witness. The cruise employees were so traumatized the captains decided to turn around and report the entire nightmare. I got a chuckle out of the story. While it’s definitely a serious matter this all happened in Minnesota. This is a state that maintains its progressive attitude yet still viscously hangs on to its wholesome façade. This is a tough balancing act and for this most part it does pretty well. After all, the state produced both Prince and Garrison Keillor. Oh yeah, and just about everybody worships the Minnesota Vikings. So what should these deities be allowed to get away with?

I was talking about this (currently the only) local story with my mom on the phone last night. After we exchanged what we had heard and opinions, she changed the topic.

“Have you updated your blog recently?”

“No, I’ve been too busy. Plus, I haven’t had much to say. I started writing something up about what happened at book group this week.”

“What happened at book group?”

I joined my book group a little over a year ago because I thought it would be a good way to meet new (non-physicist) people. The only local group I found met once a month at Borders and consisted of about 10 Jewish women, all retired school teachers. There is also one middle-aged Cuban woman and one middle-aged man. And now me, a timid, rather inarticulate younger woman whom they warmly welcomed. Not exactly a wild bunch. Anyway, for years they met at a large table reserved for them in the middle of Borders with a free carafe of decaf coffee. A few months ago we were rudely moved to the back corner between the W-Z fiction and the window. Our table was gone, but we still got the coffee. Then Tuesday evening our group leader informed us that we were being moved indefinitely to the café section. The manager had told her that the group was “a distraction to shoppers.” It was aweful. Between the coffee grinding and the background conversations nobody could hear anything. One person would say something and everyone just shouted “What?! I can’t hear you!” Anyway, we spend most of the time that we should have been talking about The Good Earth brainstorming instead about where we could meet from now on. Who will take such a rogue group? Do readers really carry a stigma of distraction?

My mother’s reaction to this injustice was priceless.

“Good Lord! So you mean to tell me that if you are a player for the Minnesota Vikings you can take a cruise, get a blowjob and stick sex toys up a hookers ass, but a regular citizen can not meet publicly to discuss a book?! What is society coming to?!”


After I recovered from a fit of uncontrollable laughter I said, “Now THAT makes for an interesting post to my blog!”

Then she said, “Okay. But can you please replace “blowjob” with oral sex and that other thing I said with anal sex?”

Sorry Mom.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Collection

This past weekend Dean and I went to Carl Crawford bobblehead day at Tropicana field. The Devil Rays (also Dean’s former employers) chose this weekend for bobblehead festivities as part of fan appreciation weekend, and the last games of the season. Anyone who knows us is well aware of our, ahem, collection. What people don’t always understand about all of our bobbleheads is how the collection started and why on Earth we stand in line for hours to get them.
For starters, Dean and I are both “collectors.” This is why we have too much baseball memorabilia, too many books and too many cats. Obtaining one of anything usually begets obtaining more.
In the summer of 2000, the Twins had their first bobblehead days where the first 5,000 fans received a bobblehead doll of a Twins player. Popularity has led the Twins and other teams to give away closer to 10,000 dolls per promotion, and inevitably there are still people who stand in line but don’t get one. The very first bobblehead doll of the modern era was of Harmon Killebrew, arguably the greatest Twin ever. Our decision to go to the game was rather spontaneous, but after the decision was made we were advised by my step dad to get there an hour or two before gates opened. He and my mom were going as well, but waited at a different gate with the elitist crowd, unlike us who had to wait at the gates outside general admission.
We sat on the cement ground, in the heat with other Twins fans that alone are liable to drive you nuts. Just us, for two hours, telling stories about growing up, reminiscing, fantasizing about the life ahead of us. Together. And then, when the gates opened, an eternity later our mission was accomplished. I wasn’t convinced I ever wanted to wait in line for another promotion again. However, Dean’s exclamation of “Look at the craftsmanship of this!” made me realize I had little choice in the matter.
Five years later and we still avidly wait in line for bobblehead dolls when we can. Even though we no longer live in Minnesota, we collect dolls from the Devil Rays games and various minor league teams in the Bay area. Dean genuinely likes them, but like me he sees something in them that no one else can. He sees our experiences and our past.
For instance, when we look at our Doug Mientkiewicz doll, we both crack up at the time we had heard there were going to be people camping out overnight for it. Since we had little else to do that evening besides watch TV I packed a cooler full of iced coffee, pop, chips and sandwiches and we headed to the Metrodome at 11 pm. We brought a couple of lawn chairs and blankets. It was surreal there because there were people in tents and families with kids who were playing catch outside the gates at midnight. We somehow got in line behind a bachelor there who we later named “Voice-immodulated Tom” because he had absolutely no control over the volume or tone of his voice. Being there by himself he struck up a conversation with us about his extensive collection of baseball magnet schedules. There we were in the middle of the night, outside the Metrodome sipping coffee and listening while Tom YELLED at us about his collection. We didn’t sleep or hardly have time to spend with each other. Hell, we were afraid to make eye contact for fear we’d die laughing at poor Voice-immodulated Tom.
When the gates opened at 11 am we collected our prizes, bought a couple of hot dogs and made our way to our seats. We were exhausted having not slept a minute outside and sat down in time to watch the Twins Tribute to Little League Teams. This consisted of thousands of little league players on the field. When we realized that the same kids on the field would soon be in the stands and on the concourse drinking Cokes and eating cotton candy we panicked and went home to sleep. We didn’t even see the first pitch.
Each doll has a story like this that reminds us that our collection lets us spend time together and gather little nuggets of stories to bring up the next time. Instead of watching TV or reading separate books, we are connecting.
This past weekend for Carl Crawford I thought that being the veteran line-waiter that I am, I could easily stand outside for an hour. No food or water in October, in Florida. I thought I had succeeded beautifully until I got in the door and became inebriated from one beer. One beer led to another and another until I was obnoxiously drunk, yelling at the umps, crying over losing Lou Piniela and threatening to vomit out the window of the car on the ride home (incase you’re curious, I never actually vomited. I managed to spit feebly out the window a couple times though). One thing I do remember is talking to Dean about naming our children and how excited we both are to have kids as soon as the time is right. Maybe someday when little (insert name boy’s and/or girl’s name here) is grown we can tell him/her we named him/her at a bobblehead game.

Monday, September 26, 2005

5/16 Life Crisis

I am having issues. I wouldn’t call it a mid-life crisis, because God-willing I am nowhere near the middle of my life. I calculated that provided I live around 83 years, my life is 5/16 over. So, I guess I’ll call whatever funk I’m in a “5/16 life crisis.” Basically what it all boils down to is that mid-20s just suck.

I don’t feel as youthful as I used to be. I still have plenty of energy and ambition, but I don’t have the carefree naiveté that comes with inexperience. I can’t unlearn what I’ve learned about the world, which means I can never see the world again through the eyes of a child or even a teenager, free of cynicism and judgment. So what does maturing and growing older mean? Does it mean coming to terms with letting go of your adolescence? Is what we think of as “growing older gracefully” really the ability to do this better than others? Is it graduating from one who receives advice and guidance to one who gives? I don’t feel qualified for that either. I feel like people in that echelon still look down on me as someone who hasn’t earned that right. But yet I find myself walking around campus, seeing freshmen and thinking, “You don’t know anything yet!” Are there still people who think that about me?

I guess I never thought being in your 20s signaled any type of transition. Does it? Okay, here’s another thing. I don’t know if it’s my age that’s getting me down or my occupation. The more time passes (as I result I grow older AND more experienced) the more I see people just not thinking for themselves. I see people believing what’s on TV, what they’re told by authority figures, what’s on the internet rather than forming their own opinions and looking critically at situations. Maybe this is because as a scientist, my number one job requirement is to question. Explore every avenue, keeping an open yet logical mind. Be skeptical, separate what is truth from simply what you want to be true. Because this methodology has been ingrained in me, I can’t help but be judgmental of those who don’t employ this type of thinking. But that doesn’t always allow me to be shed in the best light. In other words, I am terrified that I am becoming the classic intolerant scientist with a massive ego and a superiority complex, vastly removed from the “real world.” And by “real world” I mean the views of everyday people, not real current issues.

What’s worse than being the classic intolerant scientist? Being the classic intolerant female scientist. When I did my internship at a national lab two summers ago, I greatly admired my boss, but swore I’d never be like her. All of her male employees called her a bitch behind her back. She was firm, unrelenting and aggressive. I watched her fight with another lead scientist for the ownership of a $10,000 furnace and she got it. I didn’t want to be like her because I didn’t want my employees to talk about me like that. Two years later and I could care less what people say about me. If they want to call me those names for being what they themselves force me to be through their own double standards, they can bite me. Yes, those double standards are unfair, but the alternative of rolling over and being walked over is unacceptable. Every now and then I still send her an email reminding her that she’s my role model. I know it embarrasses her but it has to make her happy too. So is it an age thing, a work thing or a gender thing I’m going through right now?

When I used to think of myself, it was as a timid, gentle, quiet, patient girl. I know I am not just those things anymore, but am I any of them? And why do I care about words that describe me? If anybody has any answers to these questions, feel free to share!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Scott tagged me. This is horribly unfair because everyother blog I've read where the person has been tagged, they need only supply five answers. Seven is really pushing it. Anyway, here goes:

Seven Answers to Seven Questions

Seven things I plan to do before I die:

1) Have kids. Yes, this is somewhat obvious, but sometimes people assume I’m too career oriented to have kids. Really, I just want to make the best life I can before sharing it with my children.

2) Visit every continent except Antarctica. I’ve never been overseas and would really love to see Europe. Then I got to thinking about how I’d also like to see China or India or go on an African safari. So, I’d like to make sure I see all these places. But Antartica doesn’t interest me much. I lived in Minnesota for 23 years.

3) Get a paper published in Nature magazine. Every scientist’s dream.

4) Design my own home and have it built. Everything exactly the way I want it.

5) Read the whole Bible. Not because I’m especially religious I just want to know what the fuss is about.

6) Win a Nobel Prize (not likely, but PLANNING on doing it makes me work even harder…)

7) Build a refuge/shelter/sancuary for stray animals.

Seven things I can do:

1) Install new speakers in a car (as of this weekend, yay!).

2) Play piano. Really well.

3) Write technical papers, a talent I didn’t know I had until I wrote my Masters’ thesis.

4) Cook.

5) Listen when people have problems or need to vent.

6) Talk sports, politics, science, music, literature, and movies when required at social functions, though not always dispassionately.

7) I can still sleep for 12 hours at a stretch. Something my parents thought I’d grow out of eventually. Nope!

Seven things I cannot do:

1) Drive on the freeway. A phobia I’ve had since I started driving. I’ve gotten better on interstates when it’s not as trafficky, but driving on the freeway through the city absolutely terrifies me to the point of paralysis.

2) Eat carrots without gagging.

3) Throw stuff away. I get that from the Frey side of the family.

4) Confront people who need confronting. I’m trying to get better because I know I will be eaten alive in a competitive environment. I just know that in the lab life is easier when people don’t hate you for calling them out on things they’ve done wrong. I’ve always had strong people in my life to fight my battles for me. I realize this and would like to be one of those people, instead of depend on one.

5) Lie or fake sincerity. Luckily I’m often genuinely sincere.

6) Sing. I truly suck at it.

7) Tolerate cold weather.

Seven things that attract me to another person:

1) The ability to make me laugh. When someone has the same sense of humor as me, it is a tremendous turnon.

2) Compassion towards people and animals.

3) Thoughtfulness. If people show me that they think about me besides when they are in my presence, I am immensely flattered.

4) Passion. Not physical passion, a true, deep love for something.

5) Humility. Being able to laugh at yourself.

6) Shoulders. The first thing I notice on a man.

7) Inquisitiveness and eagerness to try/learn new things.

Seven things I say most often:

1) “It’s over.” When the guys and me were coming back from a conference in Montreal it was becoming increasingly obvious we were going to miss our flight. Jeff was speeding to the airport, we had taken wrong turns, gotten pulled over and stopped by customs. We finally took another wrong turn at which point I just said, “it’s over.” The guys cracked up and it’s been our catch-all phrase for giving up ever since.

2) “Gosh!” (from Napolean Dynamite. I know it’s cliché right now, but I can’t help myself).

3) “F*ck this place.” Something Dean sleepily mumbled one night after being awoken by a feline-induced crash in the closet. Now we say it whenever the kitties do anything dumb, which is often.

4) “Soot!” When my roommates and I used to watch my stepsister when she was little, we were careful to watch our language around her. One of us shouted “shoot!” once when we were upset and Emma excitedly keep repeating “Soot! Soot!” It’s still often said with the same vigor when us girls get together.

5) “Yeah, not so much.”

6) “Have you checked…lying around?” (In response to “Have you seen my wallet, cell phone, sample, voltmeter, etc.)

7) “Gi-normous.” My favorite descriptor.

Seven celebrity crushes:

1) Marlon Brando before he became an old, fat, eccletic weirdo. Back in the day he was a Hottie McHottie.

2) Bono. His voice, his lyrics, his rugged good looks, his humanitarian efforts. Enough said.

3) David Duchovny. My one geeky crush. Fox Mulder was the sexiest TV character EVER.

4) Marilyn Monroe. I don’t care if this makes me bi, she was gorgeous.

5) Bill Clinton. Don’t start with me until you’ve seen him speak in person.

6) Brad Pitt. I know, copout. Every woman loves him though because HE’S BEAUTIFUL.

7) Kevin Garnett. One word: YUM.

Seven bloggers I'm tagging:

I only know one other who hasn’t been tagged and that’s:


Friday, September 16, 2005

Goodbye, Credit Cards (or Why I am the Magnet Babe)

It's seven o'clock on a Friday night and I'm still at work. I think I just erased the magnetic strip on my student ID and two of my credit cards. I work with a superconducting magnet that is putting out a field of 7 Tesla, or 10,000,000,000 times the strength of the Earth's magnetic field. The good part is that I'm getting good data, which means that after being up since 6:30 this morning I must be running on pure adreneline. I'm fantisizing right now about these results getting publishing in Physical Review Letters, the New York Times of the Physics community. This is opposed to the usual Journal of Applied Physics (where I normally publish), the equivalent of, say, The Chicago Tribune. Not bad by any means..... but no New York Times.
The third week of the semester is over. Thank heavens. Usually as a researcher semesters mean nothing to me. This semester, I am finishing up those two pesky classes left before I can do my PhD candidacy. Forgetting what a hellish experience grad classes are, I thought, "I'll still have plenty of time for a life!" Wrong. What ever time I haven't spent working or studying I've been a complete bitch due to being stressed out about the work or studying I should be doing. Poor Dean has gotten the worst of it, which doesn't help as he started his new job this week (congratulations, Deano!). I miss having him on campus close to me, having lunch together and carpooling, but the money is too good to pass up. Maybe this year we'll be able to move out of the Tampa ghetto!
So the reasons I have no life right now. My two classes are biophysics and solid state physics part 2. I'm going to describe why they both suck. Biophysics is the hottest field in physics right now, which as a purest makes me completely skeptical of it. It doesn't help that my professor has such a strong accent I can't understand a single word he says. For a topic where nomenclature is key, this is quite frustrating. He is obviously a nice guy and very excited about biophysics because he is always gesturing wildly, but I understand nothing. Then, rather than handing out homework, he dictates the assignments to us. Lord only knows if what I turned in on Thursday was remotely close to what he asked for.
My solid state 2 class is very interesting but taught by a professor that is known as the toughest in the department. He's always thinking of these creative ways to torture people. He came up with a good way this semester. He assigns the hardest homeworks ever. For this semester, he is making up half the problems and for the other half, assigning problems out of the textbook. However, the solutions to the textbook problems are in the back of the book. Our job is to fill in the missing steps and completely understand the problem. Since he doesn't want to grade these problems, every week he calls on a student to come to the board (because we're in 5th grade?), work the problem out while explaining it and then answer questions from him about it. Only one student per week has to present, but since we don't know who it will be ahead of time, we all have to do all of the problems. Clever. Anyway, rather than enjoying a class where the primary topic is magnetism, my field, I sit there developing an ulcer all class period terrified of being called upon. It doesn't help that I'm the only woman in the class and get teased incessantly. The guys are always "volunteering me". Since I haven't been called on yet, this might have actually worked to my advantage. It still doesn't alleviate my discomfort of being the only woman and feeling like that means I must do above average just to prove myself.
Couple these factors with research, the gym, book group (it took me 2 weeks to get through Their Eyes were Watching God at a miserable pace of 15 pages a night before passing out from exhaustion), kitties and phone calls at work from Dean saying "I think I left the iron on, would you go home and check?" and now you know why I haven't been blogging much. So what's the point? It's now 7:45 on Friday night, I'm bored waiting for my experiment to finish. I am vindicated by knowing that now you are probably bored too.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Things that go "Meow" in the Night

I originally began this post by calling it “The Joys of Being a Cat Owner.” I changed the title of this post because I have had many cats in my life, and I have never once felt like I owned one. At the worst of times, I’ve felt the opposite, that they’ve owned me. Even the big, sad eyes of the Dumpster Kitties have gotten me wrapped around their paws.

Nothing epitomizes the unpredictability of living with cats more than what they do while you are sleeping. The following is a typical night in the Frey-Huls household.

11:00pm - Lights out.

11:05pm - Allison jumps on the bed and crawls onto my chest. She begins kneading bread on my chest and neck. None of the kitties are de-clawed, so if I have neglected keeping their claws trimmed, now is when I regret it. She also purrs loudly and rubs her face against mine. Since I’m not entirely sleeping yet, this is always pretty cute. What’s not so cute is that she has a chronically leaky eye so sometimes her intense cuddling also leads to wiping leakage on my cheek. This can be kinda gross and when this happens I grab a Kleenex, wipe my face and tiredly throw the balled-up tissue in the direction of the garbage. This causes Allison to jump off and chase it.

1:00am - Wrigley jumps on the bed and bites my forearm. He has the most unbelievably sharp teeth I’ve ever felt. They are particularly sharp when being awoken by them from a deep sleep. He purrs and keeps biting my hands, feet and any other part of skin exposed. It is this behavior that requires Dean and I to sleep fully covered with blankets up to our chins even when it’s summer in Florida. After being bitten several times, I toss Wrigley off the bed and invoke the blanket-up-to-chin defense and go back to sleep.

2:30am - “F#$%#$@!!!” Wrigley has bitten Dean in the face. During the day I am sometimes jealous that Dean has a closer bond with Wrigley than I do. My jealousy is not present at this time.

4:15am- Nellie, the alpha female, has hunted one of her numerous prey. This is usually a sock stuffed with cotton and catnip that Sylvia made for her right after we got her. She howls distraughtly until one of us gets out of bed and retrieves the prey after properly praising her for her prowess. Recall that Wrigley likes to bite any part of exposed flesh when the lights are off, so collecting Nellie’s victim also involves shaking Wrigley off our ankles while cursing his impressive teeth.

5:30am- Allison is back. This time instead of making bread, she lies on my pillow and wraps herself around my head. She likes to lick my forehead. While cat-tongue is an effective exfoliate, it is not generally welcome. She also sometimes misses my forehead and catches a mouthful of hair instead.

6:30am- The alarm goes off. I get out of bed and put my gym pants on to avoid any further abuse from Wrigley. I turn on the lights to find three pairs of eyes looking up adoringly at me and all is forgiven.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Not So Great Debate

Last month President Bush announced his support for the teaching of "Intelligent Design" alongside the theory of evolution in public schools, saying, "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought." As citizens of a democracy, Americans react well to the fairness of this argument. They think this is a perfectly reasonable compromise to the creationism versus evolution debate. I am writing this to try and convince people that this is not a reasonable compromise. I am not writing this as a democrat or a "loony liberal". I am writing this as a scientist with extensive exposure to several fields of science.
There are several points I wish to make about this. First and foremost, within the scientific community, THIS IS NOT A DEBATE. Evolution is as accepted as relativity or quantum mechanics. Of course, as there are people at physics conferences claiming to have found a hole in relativity, or invented a perpetual motion machine, there are occasional scientists who push for non-traditional biological theories. Since we are a peer mediated society, these scientists are politely listened to and then proven wrong. Non-scientists do not challenge theories like relativity because it poses no threat to them. However, to the average practicing Christian evolution is a direct affront to their faith. This is the true origin of this debate. So by keeping their ideas at the forefront of everyone's minds they are ensuring that we don't become a "Godless" society. But let me repeat, this is no debate. To scientists this is a non-issue. Teaching children that this is a valid debate within the scientific community is a misrepresentation of our community. Teaching that "Intelligent Design" is even a mildly acceptable scientific theory to potential future scientists is detrimental because it is effectively teaching students what a "theory" is and then giving them an incorrect example of one. It is the same thing as teaching students proper sentence structure and then as an example showing them a grammatical nightmare.
There is a student in my lab who is a proponent of ID. As lively discussions often ensue in the lab, this topic comes up quite frequently. In a moment of weakness I agreed to watch one of his DVD's on the subject. While the DVD masqueraded as science and could be convincing to many people who watch it, many things they state as fact are simply wrong. Their biggest argument, irreducible complexity, has indeed been proven false by evolutionists. Anyone who didn't know that would be convinced there is a major flaw in evolution.
I would also like to clarify a myth that is often perpetuated by supporters of ID: that scientists are heartless heathens that want to see God pronounced dead. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, a lot of us are atheists and very few are actually practicing a religion. The vast majority of scientists believe in a higher power though not necessarily in a traditional way. Our beliefs are often re-enforced by the beauty we uncover in nature and the simplicity and conciseness of physical law.
We also don't oppose organized religion in general. Only when it encroaches on our territory. Personally, I take a great interest in learning about different religions. How they're different, how they're not. I have no problem with teaching about Judeo-Christian creationism in public schools, as long as it is in a theology, philosophy or world religion class. And to please President Bush, expose them to different schools of thought. Discuss Judeo-Christian creationism alongside Buddhist creationism, Native American creationism, Hindu creationism and Muslim creationism. Somehow, I don't see that debate going quite as far.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Little Women, Little Children, Little Sisters

After months of badgering from one of my friends, for the first time in my life I read Little Women. After Little Women, I read Little Children, at the request of Dean. Currently, I am reading Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities. I never imagined that the three books could each say so much about the sociology of women's relationships with other women.
As almost everybody knows, Louisa Mae Alcott's epic Little Women tracks the adolescence of the four March sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Each of the girls has a very different personality to the extreme that I think any woman can see pieces of herself in all of the sisters. Meg, the gentle, domestic one, Jo, the firy tomboy, Beth, the fragile, sensitive one and Amy, the baby with a lot of learning to do. I know I saw myself in all these characters, especially Beth. The story tracks the girls over ten years while they find love, friendship, and themselves. While the story takes place during the Civil War the book remains a classic today because of its timeless themes. The girls learn hard lessons about money, society, marriage and grief. What I liked most about Alcott's writing was that just when I thought things seemed too simplified or sugar-coated she revealed a character flaw or a mistake one of the characters made. The girls fought like sisters but most of all supported each other. I have never read a biography of Ms. Alcott, but if I did I suspect it would read like Jo's life. She was by far the most multi-dimensional of the sisters. Even today this book provides little women everywhere with characters they relate to and situations they can brace themselves for all the while thinking, "what would the March sisters do?"
Little Children will be seen as Tom Perrotta's breakthrough novel, a satirical commentary on raising kids in suburban America. I loved this book. The main character is Sarah, a feminist, ex-lesbian turned stay at home mom. She goes from being a "tolerated" member of the neighborhood, conservative mom clique to being ostracized for spontaneously kissing a stay at home dad all the moms had a crush on. This kiss turns into an affair with the steroetypical high school jock, her first "good-looking boyfriend." Her affair reflects the changing face of feminism, acknowledging that we feminists refuse to be the high school cheerleaders, but that doesn't mean we don't want their boyfriends! Independent women are willing to be more honest about what they really want. It also accurately portrayed the "group mentality" of cliques. The way a woman can be outcast from a group for doing something everyone else is too scared to do. And the failure of those who disagree with the group to speak up. But overall, this book was hilarious. There were parts of relationships that Perotta hit right on the head, such as the point where the woman goes from wearing sexy lingerie to wearing odd-colored sweatpants. Most amazing was the moment the stay at home dad's wife figures out the truth. It wasn't through dialogue, or even intuition. It was by noticing that Sarah had her toenails painted a metallic blue, "the kind of color a trashy twelve-year-old would have loved, nothing you'd ever expect to find on the feet of a grown woman, the mother of a young child. You would have to be crazy to wear nail polish like that, or so deeply in love that you were beyond caring." Brilliant.
Pledged is my guilty pleasure of the month. Not passed down through generations or praised by the New York Times Book Review, but a page turner and a fascinating account of Greek life. I tried my damnedest at the Univeristy of Minnesota to avoid Greek life and all it entailed. I sensed the inherirent cattiness in the girls and the insincerity of the fratboys. Alexandra Robbins goes undercover to expose exactly what goes on in sororities. Basically, she asserts, everything you hear about sororities is true. The drinking, drugs, promiscuity, eating disorders, and date rape. The Greek system is a univeristy-endorsed system to openly discriminate against people solely on the basis of income, looks, style and even race. In this manner, socailizing becomes easy because people have a way of meeting other people who are "pre-screened" for these qualities. These really are the "trust-fund babies" as it is literally impossible for girls to pay their dues, and work part time to do so while still fulfilling their sorority obligations. This book really shows the group mentality that I mentioned earlier. Sororities hate other sororities, but even within their sorority there are cliques. Girls who can make other girls' lives a living hell. If the sorority doesn't approve of your new boyfriend (i.e. he is from the wrong frat) that relationship has no hope. The girls are emotionally and physically abused by their "sisters" and worst of all, they pay money to be treated like this. It is amazing the way women succomb to this behavior and find it easier to join in it rather than stand up against it.
This brings me to my paramount question. Why can't we all just get along? My profession is on average about 15% women. I have a couple of close women friends in the department, but by far some of the worst competition and judgement I have felt has been from females. The gossip, the jealousy the desire not to see another woman succeed can be overwhelming. And heartbreaking. Are we women really so territorial by nature? Or are we somehow taught to try our hardest to push others away? Sorry this is so long, but I think these are questions that are interesting to ask and definitely worth trying to answer.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


I am currently watching a newscaster broadcast from New Orleans as people behind him are evacuating into the Super Dome. Highway 10 is clogged with cars leaving one of the most beautiful cities on Earth. They say the city is going to be destroyed tonight. People are expected to come back to find no power, contaminated water and no homes. They say that if the levees break, water will flood up to the fourth stories of buildings.

I had the good fortune to visit the Big Easy twice. Once with my mom, step dad, and Angie when I was 16, and once with my high school friend Jessica when we were 19. Here are some of my memories:

Angie (who had never been further from home than northern Minnesota) being completely mesmerized by Bourbon Street, begging to walk up and down the strip and being held hostage by the lights, the music and the crowds. Every day she would call her mom to tell her about some of the things she had witnessed. Things that I’m sure my mom would have rather Angie’s mom never known about. Angie and I drank our first daiquiris on Bourbon Street and I swear to God ten years later I still haven’t had one half as strong. Tom was propositioned by a female impersonator that night. We also passed by a small nightclub and stopped in our tracks to hear an amazing guitar riff floating out of the door. We read the next day that Eric Clapton had made a surprise appearance at the nightclub.

The first time I tried grits was down there. They tasted like cardboard. After the first bite I made a face. A young, black woman sitting at a table near us had been reading a book. She looked over at me and said, “if you put lots of salt and pepper on them, you’ll eventually get to like them.” By the time we left, I was eating grits like a true Southern belle. I eat them here in Florida. Lots of salt and pepper.

We met a guy outside the Hard Rock Café who was wearing a rubber apron, a fishing hat and holding a guitar. His name was Windex Pete because on occasion his liquor habit had gotten so bad he acquired a reputation for drinking Windex. I got by picture taken with him.

We went to Jazz Fest while I was there with my family. There were up and coming jazz acts as well as some of the most established musicians. And food. It’s such a shame I don’t like seafood. I can still remember looking down upon the carcasses of countless crayfish strewn about the grass, people spitting out the shells as if they were eating sunflower seeds.

I remember sitting with Jessica drinking coffee and eating beignets at Café du Monde. We were in absolute deep-fired-pastry-powdered-sugar ecstasy. It was the first time I had vacationed without my parents. There was a perpetual feeling of excitement and adventure and we entertained fantasies of Hurricanes on Bourbon Street bought by twenty somethings we had bewitched. The plan would have worked if it weren't for bouncers.

We went on a Haunted History tour of the city and heard all sorts of creepy stories. That night in our hotel room just as we were both about the fall asleep, we felt a huge trembling in our hotel room that shook us in our beds. We were scared senseless.

One of our goals in visitng New Orleans was to spot Harry Connick Jr., one of the cities most famous natives. We looked up shows in clubs all over the city on the off chance he might be playing. We tried to imagine where he might eat, drink, shop. On one of the last days we were there, we went on a wonderful walking tour of the Garden District. Towards the end Jessica non-chalantly piped up saying, "I suppose Harry Connick Jr. has got to live in area like this..." to which the tour guide responded in a perfect Southern drawl, "Honey, Harry Connick Jr. lives in New York City." Thus our quest was over.

The last time my mom and Tom were down in Tampa visiting, I mentioned what a shame it was that they couldn't seem to vacation anywhere but Tampa anymore. We got to talking and decided it might be fun for them to fly back to New Orleans for the next vacation where Dean and I could drive up and meet them. We could spend time with them somewhere else, in a city we all would love to see again. Unfortunately, I don't think we will be able to go back there any time soon. And if we ever do, the city I remember so fondly will have been washed away.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Dream Job

I had a dream last night that I died and went to Heaven. While in Heaven I was directed to a woman's house that turned out to be a beautiful mansion. Everything was soft, fluffy and surrounded by a nebulous haze. The woman was stunning and vibrant. She took me to a room and opened the door. There snuggling peacefully on a big, white bed with gold trim were Emily and Chelsea, my childhood cats. They were waiting for me in Heaven. The woman said that her job was to take care of cats that had passed before their owners and when their owners passed, they could come get their cats. When I die, if there is a Heaven and I can go there, I want that to be my job.

Monday, August 22, 2005


I learned about this exhibit from Mary Roach's book Stiff (an AMAZING book). So when I saw it was coming to Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), I was totally excited. The Florida Anatomical Board tried to have it shut down. MOSI responded with a big f- you and opened the exhibit two days early to record breaking crowds. Friday there was a front page article on the exhibit. I hungrily read the comments from the museam goers and tried to make out the grainy newspaper pictures. After I got home, I brought the paper to Dean.

I said, "Ummmm, you know how I go to all the baseball games you want to go to with you? Well, there's this one thing..."

"Sure," he said, "what is it?"

I held the article out to him. "I REALLY want to go see this."


"Do you know what it is?"

"Yeah, it's an exhibit at MOSI."

"Do you know what it's about?"

"It says 'Bodies.' That sounds cool."

"Don't you want to read the article about it?"

"No thanks. I'm sure I'll figure it out when we get there."

Yes. Yes he will.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Pants Fairy

If you are not up for an excrutiatingly long post about Ralph Lauren pants, I suggest you exit now.

It all started around Christmas time when Mom and Tom and I went shopping at Bloomingdales' after Christmas sale. If you have never witnessed my mom and I shopping, it is quite the sight. We shop as if it is the apocalypse and our eternal souls will be judged on the basis of the bargains we have found. I was in the dressing room trying on a vast multitude of designer clothes at ridiculously low prices when I spotted them. Tan Ralph Lauren pants, my size, already in the dressing room waiting for me. They were somewhere between jeans and khakis, a luxiously soft cotton that definitely passed for "business casual." They were originally $59.99, marked down to $27.99 and then 40% off of THAT. Plus, they made my butt look fantastic. From then on they were heavy in the rotation.

I was shopping for a dress for a wedding awhile back and I stopped in at Ross. Ross is a frightening store. Since most of my readers don't live in Florida, they have never had the misfortune of having to go in to a Ross. It is perpetually dimly lit and has an odor of sweat and synthetic fabric. There are never enough people working, the lines are out the door and the dressing rooms are reminiscent of a high school locker room. Nontheless, Ross does carry name brand clothes at significantly reduced prices- perfect for shopping for a dress for a wedding in Boondocks, Minnesota. While waiting in line to pay for my dress (I never said I didn't find stuff there on occasion...) I spotted my tan pants for $24.99. I briefly debated buying a backup pair and then decided aginst it. I paid $15 for them at Bloomingdales, I wasn't about to pay $25 for them at Ross.

After the wedding and the wonderful stay in Minnesota, I came home and realized that I couldn't find my tan pants. I remember ironing them in my dad's laundry room and then changing my mind and putting on a skirt for a concert. That was the last time I saw them. I called my dad a few days ago and mentioned that I thought I remember leaving a pair of pants at his house. I described them in detail.

"Tan, cotton but not khaki material. Really soft. Bootleg cut. Size [not telling the world what size I am]."

"Oh." My dad said.

"Oh, what?"

"Well, it's just that Anna's that size too."


"Your pants are probably in Canada with her [on a three week vacation]. If so, let me know how much they were, I'll write you a check"

Hmmm. How much they were originally, or how much I paid for them? The thrill is in how LITTLE I paid for them. Anyway, I related this story to Dean on the way to dinner last night and begged him to stop at Ross so I could see if they still had some there. He asked if I thought Anna would realize that she had my pants. I jokingly said, "Maybe she thought the pants fairy brought them to her." He agreed, never having been in Ross before. He was appalled.

"Frey, do you shop here a lot?"

"Not really. They have cheap Tommy stuff though."

"Are you really doing that bad financially? I am making more money now. You don't have to shop like this."

"Who cares? Yeah, it's kinda gross but it's better than paying full price all the time, especially while I'm still a grad student."

"From now on, I'm buying your clothes so that you never have to come here again."

Both me and Anna have pants fairies now.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Why I love Random Baseball Stats

I was at a local sportsbar last night watching the Twins game. Okay, I know I said I've given up on them for this season, but Santana's last start resulted in him pitching a complete game shutout. Last night was not a disappointment. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and ending up giving up a solo home run in the 9th. As my mom said, at this point everyone should just work on their individual stats. This brings me to discussing my love of baseball statistics. On the surface it makes perfect sense, being a scientist and a sports fan, I should naturally gravitate to the numbers associated with baseball. However, I also love basketball and football but don't find the stats nearly as alluring. Baseball stats are awesome because they're so random. You get stats like "so and so is the only person to ever hit a grand slam on his birthday." Stuff like that is so cool. Last night on one of the many screens at the bar this stat was displayed (courtesy of ESPN):

"Approximately 7 million babies have been born worldwide since the last time the Kansas City Royals won a game (July 27th)."

Wow. Poor KC has been on an 18-game losing streak and things are not looking good for them. I can't help but wonder though, does this truly fantastic stat say more about how bad the Royals suck or how big the problem of over population is becoming?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Angelina Fettuccine

Days after I had moved into the house I was to grow up in, and six months after turning four years old, a mischeivious, white-haired little girl knocked on our front door and asked me to come out and play. She was four as well and I came to find out she lived just across the street. Her name was Angie and we were best friends all through our childhoods. One day my mother in a fit of silliness called her "Angelina Fettuccine" and the name stuck.
Those years we were inseparable. She was the closest to a sister I ever had and we could fight like sisters too! We would get in petty arguments and each of us would go to our respective front steps and stare across the street at the other until one of us relented.
As a pre-teen, she defiantly stopped going to church (I was never made to go) so Sunday mornings we'd sneak into her dad's record collection and play oldies. It was on one of those morning that we founded our own Church of Elvis. We'd blast that once-scandalous music and dance like we were possessed. This started a long tradition of collecting cheesy Elvis memorabilia (there's no lack of that around!) and every birthday or Christmas we could expect a wrapped imitation velvet painting or a sno-globe with the King's likeness on it.
Angie was my polar opposite and therefore my total complement as well. Blond-haired, blue-eyed and brazen. She was always the athletic one, and excelled at basketball. This suited her well as she grew to be six feet tall. I, on the other hand am brunette with brown eyes. Shy, awkward, and, well, not six feet tall.
After high school, Angie went to college in Wisconsin where 12 years of Catholic schooling completely backfired. She blew off school, started smoking, drinking, hanging out with scary people and ended up moving back home after her freshman year. In my usual style, I was intimitated about going away to school, so I went to the University of Minnesota and lived at home my first year. I thrived at college (not really having anything to rebel against) and made good friends with whom I would share an apartment the next few years (an entirely different post...). When she moved back across the street, I moved into an apartment and things were never the same. I think she secretly resented my academic success and we had a hard time maintaining contact. We talked on and off after extended breaks. Since our parents were still neighbors I always knew what was going on with her.
When I moved to Florida, Angie made an appearance at my going away party. We cried and promised to do better about keeping in touch. All was forgiven and she was going to visit often. We exchanged a couple of letters, nothing though for two years now.
I heard from my grandparents (who also live in my old neighborhood) that Angie was going to get married to her long distance boyfriend and move with him to New Mexico. Up until that point, we seemed like opposites, leading different lives and wanting different things. I think the fact that she decided to move far away and explore the country with the man she loves proved that we are more alike than we ever thought possible.
I was upset not to have been invited to her wedding. To see my best friend get married I would have flown to the ends of the Earth. I heard after the fact that it was small, intimate and in Las Vegas. I like to think she did it in classic Angelina Fettuccine style with an Elvis impersonator and that while in one of our houses of worship, she thought of me.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Dew Breaker

Last night I finished reading the Dew Breaker. I read it for my book club, which met on Tuesday (I know, I didn't have it finished in time. To my credit, I was only behind by 30 pages). I had mixed feelings about the book. I think I really liked the idea of the book better than the book itself. It focuses on a man who was a Dew Breaker (a member of the Tontons Macoute, a violent Haitian law enforcement group during the reign of Francois Duvalier). His story is told indirectly through the voices of people whose lives were drastically altered by his actions. His daughter, who in th course of the book learns the truth about him, has to change her views of the father she's known her whole life. Each chapter is not really connected to the rest which makes sense because the book contains a few short stories previously published elsewhere by the author, Edwidge Danticat. I think Ms. Danticat comprimised too much by making the stories loosely tied instead of letting the stories stand on their own. When I was reading the book, I spent entirely too much time trying to make connections between the characters. The connections exist, but making them becomes a distraction. Our book club mediator said she liked having to work to put the pieces together, that the story wasn't spoonfed to her. I felt that Ms. Danticat was trying too hard to force the pieces to fit.
I also thought that while the voices were lyrical and the writing was beautiful, there are so many questions that were barely touched upon that in depth would have made an amazing book. For instance, the Dew Breaker's experience with his "last victim" made him give up his position and move to New York to start over. Is anyone ever truly redeemed from these actions? Do people deserve second chances? He didn't tell his wife the true nature of his work until after they were married. Is it possible to love someone despite such a past? And the daughter. What would you think if you discovered your father was guilty of unspeakable crimes? He named her Ka, meaning his good soul and he seemed completely removed of his past. But does that mean he's not accountable for it? I don't know. There's no doubt the Dew Breaker was a good read and a glimpse into Haiti's tumultuous past. It could have been a little longer to deal with some of these questions, however, Ms. Danticat is still a relatively new writer with a lot of growing to do. I think as a author she is someone to keep an eye on in the future.

Friday, August 12, 2005

This Complex isn't Big Enough for the Both of Us...

I went to go feed the Dumpster Kitties tonight and when I got behind the dumpster I saw an odd thing. There was an open 1-pound package of raw hamburger and two of the kittens were going nuts over it. Three thoughts immediately occurred to me.
The first one (and I'm not proud of it) was, "Who the hell just out-did me by feeding the stray cats hamburger?" The second one (and again, not by finest moment) was, "I hope they don't like her better than me!" (Before you jump on me about the stereotype, try to recall meeting a Crazy Cat Man. I never have.) The third was, "Wow. I guess I'm not the only person in Tampa who actually cares about what happens to homeless animals." I have long been disgusted by the habit of Floridians of abandoning their animals when they find an apartment they like better but it doesn't allow pets. Or when they don't get them fixed but don't want to deal with babies. To know that I'm not the only one who thinks we shouldn't turn our backs on the bad decisions of our neighbors makes me think there's still hope.

You Know you're a Physicist When...

After a FEW HOURS at work, you notice your clothes really don't match at all. AND no one else seems to notice.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Back to Back to Back to Toilet

The "back to back to back American league central division champion Minnesota Twins" as they are always referred to on their website have been all but pronouced dead for the season by my personal baseball god, Peter Gammons. They are 16.5 games out of first place in the division behind both the hated White Sox and the less-hated-but-still-not-liked Indians. They are fifth place (7.5 games out of first) for the wild card race, where they are a half game behind TORONTO. A popular trend among Twins fans at the moment is to turn against our beloved Torii Hunter, where some (who shall remain nameless) have even referred to him as a cancer to the team. I never once believed this, however Torii's injury and the team's subsequent 3 game losing streak is doing little to vindicate me. Even Joe Mauer, one of the few men I would leave Dean for (who is also my aunt's neighbor, so behave, Deano!) has had a .179 August so far, compared to a .326 July. And last year's AL Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana is 3-4 in his last 10 starts. The prognosis is not good. And while this year would have been a PERFECT year to make a play for the World Series, with the Yankess stinking it up in the East and the Red Sox finally relieved of the curse (what a miracle! A curse broken by a $130 million team!) it will most likely be the White Sox who are this year's Cinderella team. A bigger person would objectively say that they deserve that honor as they have done everything right this season. I am not that person. The division is way out of reach. And the way Oakland is playing the West may once again take two teams to the playoffs, even though Oakland will choke once again in the first or second round (I am being generous by including the second round in that statement). So what do I do? I don't want to be a fairweather fan and abandon my boys when they need support the most. At the same time, the only time I can watch games is at the sports bar, where I'm also paying to drink beer and eat greasy food. At the end of the night, I'll walk away buzzed with a bloated tummy and a bad attitude after watching them lose. Not fun. It's times like this I wish I could just turn on Dick and Bert and watch the game in between loads of laundry and not end the night wanting three hours of my life and $30 of my money back. I guess what I'm trying to say is that even though it's August 10th, I have essentially agreed with Peter on this. If on the off chance the Twins do make it to October I will hide in shame for having my doubts. Until then, I revel at the thought that down here in Florida, we will get the first look at the (no title, starting again from scratch) Minnesota Twins in February.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Someone Please Take the Can Opener Away from Her

Earlier in the week Dean and I remarked that we've lived in Florida for three years this week, and therefore have had Nellie for three years. Today is actually Nellie's third anniversary with us. Remembering this after I fed the five Dumpster Kitties (and one Dumpster Possum), I came back into the apartment, blared the Beatles' "Birthday" and split a can of Bumblebee tuna between the three cats. Afterward, when the song was done and the cats were diligently feasting, Dean peered out from behind the couch to say "I think I'm scared of you." I honestly don't blame him.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


This week marks three years since Dean and I moved out of Minnesota and decided to try it ON OUR OWN. We knew it would be an adventure, as between us we had one job, one car, an empty apartment and not much else. But we're still here. We knew that seeing our families a couple times a year would mean that good byes would always be teary, that we couldn't depend on our parents for wash machines, home cooking or sewing on extra buttons. We knew there were risks involved in moving to a new place: we didn't yet have our own mechanic, hairdresser, favorite Chinese restaurant. Hell, we even got a cat before we knew anyone who would catsit for us! There were a couple of times I think we both had second thoughts like when Dean's dad had a heart attack. Or when my grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimers. These things make you want to spend as much time with your family as possible. But even more so than us, our parents and grandparents know that little birds have to fly away from the nest. And these little birds headed south. Sure, living in a red state was hard to swallow at first, but now I know when and around whom to keep my mouth shut. We can count on Temple Terrace Automotive to service the Green Machine (and now the Red Machine!). I don't know how I survived without Allie from Look Salon as my hairdresser. And I think the owner of China Star can send her kids to college thanks to us. Sure, I have suffered through some bad haircuts, bad Chinese food and bad swindling by the Honda dealerships, but I am stronger for the experience. I even have multiple friends asking to catsit our multiple cats while we're on vacation. Granted, visiting Minnesota for Christmas is extra hard due to the thinning of my blood and good byes are still teary. But when I wake up in the morning during the winter months down here I get slightly giddy at the thought of not having to scrape the ice off my windshield. We can go to the beach, sit on the white, powdery sand, look out onto the green water and not see builings on the other side. And at the Twins Spring Training, the abundance of pasty legs and exclaimations of "Oooooh! Yeaaaaaah!Suuuuuure!" never fails to remind us that we LIVE where other people VACATION.