Wednesday, October 31, 2007


The Allie Cat says:

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Do you ever have a list of things to do and find while trying to accomplish the things on this list that everything is taking waaaaay longer than it's supposed to? That's my life right now. One, prolonged, painful, stagnant list. Pretty much every day since last Thursday I've wanted to scream and pull my hair out while evaluating what I have to do weighed against what has already been done.

Last week I had a mid term in my one last final last class I have to take before graduating. The midterm was online and you could take it up to three times, and your final grade would be the best score out of the three attempts. I took it once and it took me an hour. After seeing my first score I decided I wanted to take it again knowing exactly the series of questions I missed. You see, the test questions weren't just on the lecture slides, they were also on the tidbits that were mentioned out loud and since I was too lazy to take notes the first time around, I listened to the streaming audio files of all the lectures on Saturday. Luckily class only meets weekly. And then I retook the test. Twice. I finally settled for a 95 (being somewhat of perfectionist, I didn't settle for the 90 I got after round two).

So I was expecting to maybe retake the test once on Saturday morning, but between re-listening to the lectures and taking the test twice, it wasn't until late Saturday night that I was able to close the books on this midterm. That meant losing all the alone time I had set aside for reading and relaxing while Deano was out with his friends that night.

Sunday had been reserved for working on my poster presentation for the conference coming up that Dr. Hari wanted to see on Tuesday morning. I thought I'd work on it a few hours Sunday and most the day Monday. I spent most the day on Sunday putzing with background, graphics, font, et cetera and then realized I know absolutely nothing about what I need to present. The presentation is based on work I did for a collaborator so it has nothing to do with my dissertation work. I have great results, but putting them into context with pre-existing knowledge within the community is an undertaking which I'd neglected to build into my planning.

On top of that, the dull headache I had for three weeks that I assumed was due to stress and allergies turned into room-spinning dizziness and intense throbbing. Rather than spending most the day Monday working on my poster presentation, I spent half the day at the freak show that is the walk-in clinic. It's embarrassing when your allergies are so prevalent and unpredictable that you don't realize when they've indeed morphed into a disgusting, festering sinus infection. And then you have to sit in a waiting room watching "Murder, She Wrote" reruns until it's your turn to spend 30 seconds with a doctor. I brought some literature so I could read up on what I'm supposed to present in two weeks, but little of it got read between the TV, the screaming kids and the "outdoor volume" cell phone conversations that were going on in the waiting room.

Needless to say my poster wasn't ready in time. It still isn't ready as every paper I read leads to more questions than answers. I also have the gargantuan task of updating my resume for this conference where I'm presenting and maybe buying something suitable to wear in front of potential employers. Sorry to have neglected you, dear blog buddies (not to mention my sad, attention starved husband). There will be a natural or self-imposed lull in the action eventually.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I'm Stressed- Make me Smile!

Too much to do these next couple of days. I'm giving a seminar to the undergraduates today (such babies they are!). I also have some data to analyze, a poster to make for a conference next month, Dr. Hari wants a list of things I can put in my dissertation (a pre-outline if you will) and a midterm on Friday. Not much time for anything thoughtful. Today's challenge: tell me something funny about yourself so I can stop and smile a few times the next couple days!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Number 2

I've joked on here a couple of times that I go to a school many of you have never heard of. Well, if you follow college football, you've heard of us now. Yep, our Bulls have arrived. This is our 11th season playing football. We've had the same coach, Jim Leavitt, the whole time. Before this season, we had never been ranked. After beating the #17 Auburn we made our first AP Top 25 appearance at #23. The following week's win against UNC brought us up to #18. It was the stunning win against then-ranked #5 West Virginia that catapulted us up to #6. We won the next game against FAU, but more than that, several top ten upsets gave us the #5 spot. Then, yesterday, after trouncing our I-4 corridor rivals UCF 64-12 both #1 LSU and #2 California lost. And now we are #2 in for the Associated Press and BCS rankings. Un-freaking-believable. Watching the ESPN guys talk about our program and what an amazing journey this has been is completely surreal. Of course, this whole season has been a little different than most. But let's face it, if the national championship game were tomorrow- we'd be in it. Dean is kicking himself for quitting his job with the athletic department, but I keep telling him how stressed out he'd be having to work all the sold out games, not to mention hours and hours of overtime. Like most of the sports teams I've followed over the years, I keep waiting for them to disappoint me. However, the Bulls have yet to disappoint me. I've always been incredibly impressed with their strength and tenacity. Not to mention the success they've enjoyed during their short existence. I'm so thrilled right now I don't think I'd be upset if it all ended next week. They would still be one of the best stories in college football. It seems the biggest disappointment will be having to miss next season because by then we'll be on the next leg of our own journey.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Girl Can Dream...

Today, the man who should have been (and many argue was) elected President in 2000 won the Nobel Peace Prize. This may serve as only small consolation seeing as though seven years later we find ourselves in an endless, poorly executed war. A war that has cost the tax payers hundreds of billions of dollars and has been orchestrated by our dim-witted hill billy President and the former CEO of Halliburton. The President, his administration and their war have spent such an unbelievable amount of money for their "crusade" (despite the fact that they are "conservatives") that us scientists are hardly getting any money to research alternative energy sources to wean ourselves off the Arabian oil teat. The same usual suspects along with their incompetent cohorts managed to botch the government response to the single most devastating natural disaster in the nation's history. The irony of this whole debacle would be delicious if it were in the pages of a Philip Roth novel rather the reality of 21st century America. It leaves a person to wonder what the world would have been like if an environmentalist would have become President.

Of course.... it isn't too late. Mr. Gore has said time and again that he isn't throwing his hat in the ring for another presidential bid. He seems so happy in his role as environmental activist, and more comfortable in that skin than when he was Vice President. His argument is that he thinks he is getting things done this way. Raising awareness. You know, getting people to use compact fluorescent light bulbs and recycle and keep their houses two degrees cooler in the summer. I believe in these things. I drive a fuel efficient car and take mass transportation to and from work.

But the problem of global warming is bigger than that. And the government has the power to change things. It has the power to invest in our future through science and education and to end the dependence on oil. Yes, oil is insanely profitable to the most influential people in our nation, but an administration with a conscience can cut the cord. And I think an environmentalist President could do that.

Okay, I'm a little drunk and still slightly giddy but think about this. A Gore-Obama ticket. So far the democrats' biggest complaint about Obama is his lack of experience (to clarify, it isn't my complaint, just people in general). A couple terms in the White House as Vice President and he'd be perfectly primed for his own presidency. He could still execute his vision of unifying the country through hope while working under the first President to be elected after winning a Nobel Prize (and an Oscar). The best part is, they'd be almost guaranteed to win. If everyone who voted for Gore in 2000 did so again and all the people who voted for W and later came to regret it, they could get nearly every vote in the country. It would be the greatest story of vindication ever told. Not likely, but a girl can dream.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tagging and Bragging

I was tagged by fermicat for this SEO (Search Engine Optimization) meme. Basically it's one of those memes that is designed to help your blog gain exposure in the blogosphere. Rather than just creating a train of blog links all over the web, you advertise your "best" work so that readers can view a sort of cross-section of your writing. I copied the original instructions from fermi's site:

"This seo meme was conceived and designed by Bobby at Revellian .com. This is a new fun seo meme ride for us all. This is based on the seo theory that links to posts inside your blog are more important than links to your home page. I have selected three posts I want to promote along with my site’s name. You will do the same thing. Let’s keep it simple and spread our good work around to both share and build some ratings! Make sure you pick three posts that you feel are your best. You could also select 3 posts you simply want to promote. Your site name is listed with your 3 selected posts beneath. Once you have your post up: Add the sites and post links of the folks you tagged onto your post. Try to add the site and post links to anyone involved to maximize the effectiveness. Tag a minimum of 5 people. Try your best not to double tag people so it will spread better! Please actually read the posts from everyone so you can see some really good work from our beloved blogging friends! Make your title a little different from mine to avoid repetitive titles."

Okay, so here are the blogs that came before me, along with my blog and selected posts at the bottom.

Revellian dot com - SEO Keywords For Beginners, Content: The Kings Illegitimate Stepchild, Tales of Blogger-X Illusion

Mariuca - Wishing On A Falling Star - Love In Disarray, In Love With A Dream, The Good Client

Mariuca’s Perfume Gallery - Perfume Shopping Spree, Defining Beauty, In Full Splendour

Speedcat Hollydale Page - Rocket Boy in Hawaii - DC9, Speedcat’s Death Ride into Terror!, The Boy Inside All Men

Terri Terri Quite Contrary - Just How Immature Are We?, Finding a Voice, So Much More to See than the Game

Mahala- Uncle Huberts Custom Cows, Pray for the Child at Big Lots, The Legend of Saushie's Crotch

Tiff - How am I like Ron Weasley, A Social Experiment, Absolutely Boring Entry 101

Cosmic Cat - Just An Ordinary Thursday Night..., Not Gone With The Wind. Just Gone., The "Weekly Thoughtful Reminder" And Other Hazards Of Working

Field Lines - Even MIT Girls Get the Blues, Bye Bye, Friend, Bad Hair Day

I feel like I can't finish this post without justifying my answers. Too many college essay tests, I guess. First, I couldn't not post my tribute to Randy (Bye Bye, Friend), which to this day I still think is my best and most heartfelt post. I know it's a little depressing, but it is one of those rare times I feel like I actually captured the essence of a person and convinced you why he is missed. Even though it's my best post I put it second so as not to intimidate new readers and make them think this isn't a generally happy place, which it is. That's part of the reason I put Even MIT Girls Get the Blues first. I didn't think of it right away, but sifting through my 264(!) posts I found this gem again and decided it is an accurate representation of my writing style and feelings about being a physicist. And, well, if neither of those grab new readers there's Bad Hair Day one of my attempts at comic writing. I'm not sure it's my forte but it provides balance to the list. My mom has always stressed to me the importance of being a well-rounded individual.

As for the pesky tagging part. I'm going to kind of cop out with good reason. First, the readers I have that would actually be happy to participate in this have either already been tagged or not doing a lot of blogging as of late (ahem, Scott) . My other readers, well they are sort of blogging misfits who do what they please and would either politely participate cursing me all the while or completely ignore me. Please, blog buddies, prove me wrong! I'm not tagging you, but I'd love to see you all do this! If you want to participate leave me a comment so I can come see your favorite posts of your own and even discover some new bloggers!

Monday, October 08, 2007

I'm a Schmoozer

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to find this waiting for me:

It's a schmoozing blogger award given to me by Jeni over at Downriver Drivel. I don't really consider myself a schmoozer. Actually, most of my readers have found me, and only on the rare occasion I find my comment section to be consistently underwhelming I grudgingly go out and "friend hunt." Yes folks, even physicists in cyberspace have a tough time being social. Anyway, the description for this particular award is as follows:

"Good schmoozers effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don’t limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well. They are the ones who engage others in meaningful conversations, refusing to let it end at a mere hello - all the while fostering a sense of closeness and friendship."

Actually, the story I'm about to tell will make me sound like a schmoozer. But I assure you I'm not. Awhile back, dr. sardonicus had given me free advertising on his site, nicely including me in a list of blogs he thought others might should check out. dr. sardonicus is one of the few bloggers I sought out, after seeing his comments on more than one of the sites I regularly visit. Impressed simultaneously with his world view and extensive baseball knowledge, I started reading and commenting. It was through the aforementioned linkage that jeni found me and we started reading each other as well. I enjoy her blog because it has all my favorite elements: personal anecdotes, politics and sports.

Anyway, right around this same time, minnesotablue decided to start up her own little site. Some of you might recognize her screen name as a commenter here. What you might not have ever realized was that she is my grandma and I'm very proud of her for sitting down and putting some of her thoughts and experiences into words. I find her to be extremely enlightened and progressive and given that she naturally has had more life experience than me I think she has a little of interesting insights. I dearly wanted to share her new blog with you all when she started but she a little self conscious. She wanted to wait until she got a little steadier on her feet. Well I'm linking her here and now because she has gone out and done a little schmoozing herself and found a kindred spirit in Jeni. They seem to have hit it off quite well and not only am I happy Jeni found me, but I'm also a little proud of myself for being a blog matchmaker of sorts.

So thank you, Jeni for this award and for giving me something to blog about. Because otherwise I got nothing right now.

Monday, October 01, 2007

It's Going to be a Loooong Marriage

The witness that finally went to management about the kitty shooter wasn't who I thought it was. This is actually good, because that means that there are even more dumpster kitty advocates than I previously thought. I have even had open communication with management the last few days and much to my surprise, they are incredibly appreciative of what I've gotten done with them.

They guy who I originally thought was the witness was the guy I refer to as Grillman because I don't know his name and he always gives scraps from his grill to the kitties. I've found steaks, pork chops, shrimp, anything you can put on the grill. Saturday, Grillman outdid himself. He filleted a large fish and gave the carcass to the kitties. The sight of it scared the crap out of me when I went to feed. A few of my most feral kitties really enjoyed it. Surprisingly, my more tame ones stayed away. I think they are a little coddled. Anyway, last night I went to feed and brought Dean with me since it was dusk and I'm still a little on edge. I brought a garbage bag with me in case the fish was still there. It was and Dean was thoroughly grossed out.

"I think I should toss the fish in the dumpster. Otherwise it's gonna stink."

"Natalie, leave the fish. Don't touch it, it's gross."

"Dean, I brought a garbage bag. It's okay, I'll put it over my hands, pick up the fish and toss it out. No big deal."

"Please don't touch the fish. Seriously, I'm about to gag. Let maintenance deal with it."

I figured either maintenance would have to throw it away and then be irritated with the cats or they wouldn't pick it up and I'd have to deal with it at a later stage of decay. I put the garbage bag over my arm and walked towards the fish. Dean began to scream. In the parking lot.

"Natalie! I'm warning you! I will never have sex with you again if you touch that dead fish!"

I looked back and forth from him to the fish.

"Don't try me! I'll won't touch you if you touch the fish!" I tried to reason with him. Someone was going to get stuck with this fish. I walked up the the fish and crouched down.

"She's doing it!" Dean yelled from the parking lot. "She's giving up sex for the rest of her life! To touch a dead fish! I can't believe it!"

I'm sure people were staring but I didn't care. I was laughing too hard. I picked up the fish and hadn't realized how heavy it would be. I held onto the head through the garbage bag and let the body flop around. I couldn't drop the whole thing into the bag, it was just too heavy. Dean was yelping like a little girl. I ran full speed holding the fish head around the corner to the front of the dumpster.

"Oh God! Oh my God! That's so gross!" We were both alternately gagging and laughing. The kitties were watching from by their still empty food bowl. The next fifty years might be dull in the sack. But there is never a dull moment in the ghetto.