Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The New Normal?

*So, I had to sign something at my work orientation related to blogs. My employee handbook says: The company prohibits posting any employer-related information to a blog and discourages employees from criticizing or making negative comments which could affect morale and possibly lead to lawsuits against the company. So, if any of you think I'm ever crossing the line, let me know so I delete the post, deal?*

My job has been all over the place. I really still don't have a sense of everything I'll be doing. My first week on the job, I went to three days of conferences, so I wasn't even in the office those days. Then, I didn't have my own desk until Tuesday of my second week on the job.

I went to the office holiday party on Thursday of my second week, which was actually really nice. We got to go to a hotel for the afternoon and eat buffet-style food. The dessert buffet was awesome. They had a bunch of little cakes, crème brûlée, and make-your-own ice cream sundaes. The only bad part about the party was that no alcohol was served. Our company's clients were invited to the party, so I think they wanted to avoid any alcohol-related mishaps.

This week, I went to a Child Welfare conference on Monday. People have been out of the office a crazy amount because employees who have been with the company at least six months are given four days of personal leave that need to be used by December 15th, or they just disappear (the days are intended for use when there is bad weather and the government shuts down).

But...yeah...I still have no sense of what a "normal" week of work is going to be like. I'm sure I won't figure it out until sometime after the holidays either.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


We got to go to Vermont for Thanksgiving, which was lots of fun. It was also the first year ever that I went without seeing my family and that I cooked a substantial amount of food. I brought two pies, sweet potatoes, and squash to Lelani and Jon's. Jake brought a cranberry salad. I also made green bean casserole and mashed potatoes while we were there. Lelani made lumpia (egg rolls) and potato salad. Jon made cheesecake. Lelani and Jon were awesome enough to go out and buy a free-range turkey from a local farm. We named him Stephen. He weighed 18 pounds. He took a long time to cook through. Here is his picture:

On Friday, we made our way up to Middlebury, VT. On the way, we stopped at the New England Maple Museum. While in Middlebury, we went to a bunch of little shops, saw Otter Creek Falls, and toured the Otter Creek brewery (which also produces Wolaver's Organic Beer).

On Friday evening, we helped out at the Boys and Girls' Club. A whole bunch of kids were there to see Santa. Jake and I had the job of giving each kid that sat on Santa's lap the choice of a cheap toy out of a basket. Most were OK (pencils, punching balloons, little plastic cameras with Xmas images inside, etc.), but there was one toy that I wished wasn't in there. Mini-sticky hands...oh my. We had the problem that one kid actually thought it was candy and started to eat it. His parents were like, "Is that food?", and Jake and I had to be like, "NO!"

On Saturday, we drove around to Woodstock and Quechee. We saw the Quechee Gorge, which is advertised as the "Grand Canyon of Vermont". Here's a picture:

Saturday night, Lelani and I got into a debate over whose eye Mallory Nelson shot acid into while we were in high school. Lelani though Andy Disterhaft, and I thought Andy Wesner. We wound up calling Bill and asking him. Bill thought Andy D., so I lost that bet.

Jake and I had to take off for home early on Thursday morning. Sadness...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Random Pictures

Our photography class ended this week. I didn't really shoot anything I'm totally in love with, but I thought I'd include some shots I took on here for fun. One day, when I take the time, I'll take some good pictures. I just need some good subject matter. A good vacation. A puppy. A baby. Yeah...

Vicodin Makes Me Tired

I went back to the doctor again this morning. He took off the big bandage on my hand, which I'm excited about because I can actually take a normal shower now and start using my hand a bit more. I'm typing with my finger right now, even though it hurts some. It's still really gross and has stitches in it. I'm getting the stitches taken out on Tuesday morning. I hope this heals up the right way this time. This morning, the doctor said, "I've never seen anything quite like all the fat that built up on your finger. It was really a mess under there," which is really not comforting coming from someone who has been practicing medicine for 40+ years.

I'm on pain medication, which has been making me kind of goofy and tired.

Oh! I got a job in Arlington! I'll be working as a research assistant and I start the Monday after Thanksgiving. I'm hoping that I won't have to deal with any more doctor's appointments for my finger at that point.

Friday, November 09, 2007


The hand surgeon looked at my finger yesterday. He doesn't think my problem is an infection, but an inflammation. I'm going to the hospital this afternoon to have surgery. The more I think about it, the more I'm a little freaked out. They're putting me under. It hit me when I was on the phone with the surgical coordinator and she asked me if I have any religious objections to anything that they should know about. I thought, "Holy crap...I'm not going to have any idea of what's going on." All sorts of wild things could happen to me and I would have no idea...

Jake is going with me to take me back afterwards. I have to be in by noon and they are putting me under at 1:30.'s like a re-do of the whole thing. He's going to cut along the line where the glass cut me originally and re-stitch me up afterward.

I hope this is the end of all of this...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I've got some good news and some bad news

Here's the bad news first:

I have an infection in my pinkie finger. I'm seeing a hand surgeon tomorrow. It's a long story. I'll try to edit it down to a few bullet points though:

  • I got referred to the wrong doctor by the ER originally (she wasn't in my PPO).
  • After that doctor took out my stitches, I noticed that my finger was red and swollen, but I thought I'd wait to see if it went down.
  • The swelling didn't go down, so I called the same doctor back to make an appointment to come back in. The earliest time she had available was in two weeks.
  • During that time, I figured out that my insurance wouldn't cover going in to see her.
  • Then, I went to a drop-in clinic on Friday so I could see someone. I was sick of waiting.
  • They put me on antibiotics.
  • I had to go back in on Monday to have my finger re-evaluated. They told me I should see a hand surgeon because I've developed a fibroma, which is an abnormal growth of healing tissue.
  • I was referred to someone actually in my PPO and I'm seeing him tomorrow.

    Here's the good news:

    I interviewed for a research assistant position when Sarah was here visiting. I followed up with them on Monday and they told me that they want to offer the position to me. They're doing a budget analysis and should let me know if I can have a job with them by the end of the week. I'm glad that they want to give me a job, but the waiting and uncertainty is bothering me. In the meantime, I've subbed at the schools twice. My first time was as a paraprofessional in the kindergarten room and the second was as an LD teacher at the middle school. Both were pretty easy. I was surprised at the amount of people helping while at the middle school. I only had six kids in my first class. A para came in to help right away, and then two OT/PT women came in mid-class to help out. So, it was basically four staff to six students, and these students didn't even have severe disabilities. I thought myself, "Hell, there have been times when I have been left alone with four to six kids with severe problems. This is nothing..."

    Last Thursday, I convinced Jake to go to E Street Theater with me to see the movie King Corn. I heard about it over the summer and have been wanting to see it, so in my opinion it's good news that I did see it. The movie basically just rehashed a lot of things I've learned previously by reading Michael Pollan, etc., but there was some good entertainment value in it. One of my favorite parts was watching the two guys who made the film trying to make high fructose corn syrup in their kitchen at home. There's also a gross part where they actually reach into a live cow's stomach and pull out corn parts to show how the cow actually can't digest it.

    My final bit of good news is that we're only two short weeks away from Thanksgiving and I'm going to Vermont! So, soon I'll be able to say that I've seen another state that I haven't seen before (I need to see five new states before July 2009 so I can cross an item off my to-do list). And, I'll get to see Lelani and Jon! Yay!

  • Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Candy Corn!

    I went as candy corn to the wedding reception in Milwaukee this weekend. Here are a couple of pictures:

    Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    Scary Stuff

    Happy Halloween!

    On this holiday, I thought I'd write a short blog about things that scare me. Nope, I'm not afraid of ghosts or anything like that... but infectious diseases freak me out. I've been thinking a lot about influenza lately. It's flu season, and there has been a lot of coverage of the flu vaccine in the news. The Skeptic's Guide and NPR's Science Friday have both put out podcasts on it recently. Scientists say it's only a matter of time before we have another flu pandemic like the one that happened in 1918-1919. And, 30,000 people die a year from the flu on an average year anyway! The more I learn about the flu vaccine, the more I think that it's really important for just about everyone to get it. It strengthens your immune system and makes it more likely that you will survive if another major flu pandemic breaks out. It also reduces the mutations of the flu virus because it doesn't kill the flu directly. You're already injected with killed flu. It's really kind of interesting to hear about. I'm trying to convince Jake to go with me to get a flu shot this year. I don't think I've ever had a flu shot, but there should be plenty to go around this year and now I think it's important for just about everyone to get the shot. I might have to really harp on Jake to go with me because he's a bit squeamish about needles. He admitted that I have a point when I went on and on about how getting the flu vaccine is important to protect public health.

    Another thing that freaks me out is the "superbug" MRSA. People think they are being clean by using antibacterial soaps, etc. when really they are contributing to the mutations of super-bacteria. It also seems to me that it's just another reason to avoid factory farmed meat (as if all the environmental reasons weren't enough...) because of how it's necessary to pump the animals full of antibiotics in those conditions. The idea of dying from super-bacteria is freaky to me.


    More amusing than creepy, really:

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    Question for Maria

    So, I decided I want to try to knit my mom something for Christmas. I just bought some yarn that is a blend of acrylic and alpaca. I noticed when I got home that the label has the FSC logo on it. Why would that be? What relation does yarn have to wood products? Or is it just the paper label itself that came from well-managed forests?

    Maria, if you read this, I expect you to answer.

    PS Maria, you probably already know this, but I'll write it out for anyone else that might be reading...I recently read something about the difference between FSC and SFI. Apparently the Sustainable Forests Initiative (SFI) is a load of crap. If you want to make sure that your wood products are coming from properly managed forests, buy FSC.

    Aw, these are the days that make me miss the ole message board...

    Monday, October 29, 2007


    I'm officially in the system to substitute teach now. It seems that I really won't have any problem picking up sub jobs. I got two calls to come in today, but I didn't pick up the jobs because I felt like taking today to run errands, do laundry, and clean the house. I have picked up a job for Thursday. All I'll be doing is filling in for a paraprofessional in a kindergarten classroom, which seems like a pretty easy gig to start off with. I'm excited to do it...I don't have to have all the responsibility of being the head of the class, yet I still get to hang out with kindergarteners for a day, which can be fun. When I was in grad school and helped out in the schools at Lac du Flambeau, I think the best afternoon was when I got to sit in the kindergarten room and help the kids out with drawings of their families. Fun times. It was a nice break from doing testing with kids and more fun than working with the kids in special ed.

    Yeah, subbing doesn't seem that it will be that bad. I sort of like the idea of working when I feel like working.

    In other job news...there is still the possibility that I could get offered a job at the Children's Hospital. The guy who interviewed me there is out of town until November 6th. He told me he'll be in touch when he gets back. He suddenly decided that he wants to interview more people once he's back in town, but let me know that I am still in the running for the job. It's kind of irritating because it seems that a candidate that he's a bit more interested in probably applied during a job fair the hospital had at the end of that week I interviewed. I'm annoyed that I have to wait around for this...

    On Friday morning, I had another interview to work as a research assistant at a place in Arlington. I think it went fairly well. They'll probably let me know sometime this week if I get the job.

    Well, things are looking up. If nothing works out on the permanent job front, at least I have the subbing now...

    A Walk to Remember

    (And other activities with Sarah in DC)

    Sarah came to visit this past weekend. She and Stacy flew in Thursday and stayed through Sunday. It rained for first two days they were in town, which sucked for sightseeing, but was good overall because it ended the terrible drought we've had in the area. The rain forced us inside quite a bit. On Friday evening, I put Sarah through the pain of listening to a podcast on the flu vaccine (sidenote: I think I want to try to get a flu shot this year...I might write more on this later) and we spent a low-key evening playing cards. I know, I'm such a great host...

    Here's a picture of some of our fun times indoors! I'm reading Date Lab out of the Washington Post Magazine!

    On Saturday, the weather cleared up which allowed us to walk around outside LOTS. Sarah and I walked to the farmers market in the morning. Then, Sarah, Jake, and I walked to the metro, got off and meandered around Eastern Market, strolled down to Hamilton's (a bar near the Capitol) to watch part of the Badger game, traversed the mall in order to tour the monuments, advanced across the bridge into Virginia (and almost got to see George Clooney filming a movie in the process), treked the area surrounding Iwo Jima, and slogged our way up to the Rosslyn metro station. From there, we rode up to Dupont Circle and did a crapload more walking to meet up with Stacy, Jason, et al. for dinner as well as pop into the Brickskeller for some after dinner beers.

    Here's a picture of Sarah from part of our MONUMENTAL walk:

    On Sunday morning, Sarah and I got up early and watched Stacy, Jason, and Ken run a 10K and tried to see Dan running the Marine Corp Marathon. We came back to Alexandria in the afternoon and ate lunch at Hard Times Cafe with Jake. Then, Jake and I drove Sarah over to Maryland so Jason could give her a ride back to the airport.

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    I'm hopefully on-track to becoming employed.

    I've been getting antsy about getting a job. I had a free phone consultation with a career counselor and he gave me a few pointers on ways to improve my resume and cover letter. We talked for about 35 minutes. He said that he would follow-up to provide me information on how he could be of more service to me. He hasn't yet, though. I'm sort of surprised, because I would think he'd want to try to make a bit of money from me.

    Well, after a severe drought of hearing nothing back from jobs, I had a job interview on Tuesday (the result of my "old" resume). The position is with Children's National Medical Center. If I get the job, I'll be working in the Psychiatry department as an "Education Coordinator". I'll be in charge of communicating with the kids' schools, sharing information from school counselors with the nurses in the hospital, and making sure that the kids are provided with age/grade appropriate learning materials while in the "school" at the hospital. Oh, and I'll have to do some grant-writing. I have a feeling I might get an offer from them because they didn't ask me any tough questions. When I said that I've never written a grant before, the guy said, "Don't can go and get a book from the library and figure out how to write one." So...yeah. I think they are going to try to make a decision by Friday (tomorrow). We'll see.

    Yesterday, I got an email back regarding another job as a research assistant (which I applied to using a "new" resume using some of the tips from the career counselor). Here's what it said:

    I wanted to email you to let you know we think you have a super resume and background but unfortunately we are looking for a more junior level candiate for this particular position. Please do keep a close eye on the positions however, if we open up an Analyst or Associate level position we would want to consider you for them. Sorry not to have been able to give you better news but pelase don't be discouraged.

    WTF is that? Why tell me that I'm overqualified? Ugh, and I feel like I'd be underqualified for the higher level positions. I just want to get my foot in the door somewhere. And, yeah, next time you should at least run spell-check on the email you send back to me, lady. Well, thanks for the ego-boost that I'm so super-qualified but no thanks for the news that you have nothing to offer me.

    I just got another call today to interview with a place in Arlington as a research assistant doing contract work examining data related to children and families. The interview isn't set up until next Friday. So, I'm not sure what I'm going to do if I get offered this other job.

    Tomorrow, I'm going in for an orientation to do substitute teaching. Blargh. I wonder if I'll even end up doing any subbing. If I don't sub at least once, I don't get paid for going to the training. I think I also have to sign up to get a background check done, which is going to cost me $42.

    Okay, I'm just hoping that I'll get a call tomorrow and find out that I have a job.

    At least now it feels like something has to happen soon.

    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    Trip to State College

    Oh, we went to the Penn State game with such high hopes...

    Well, at least the fans there were civil to us and we got a chance to enjoy each other's company on the ride there and back.

    We also had a chance for some drinking and tailgating. Always a plus.

    However, it's a little rough watching your team lose by more than 30 points. Ouch.

    Monday, October 08, 2007

    I a smartie.

    JustSayHi - Science Quiz

    JustSayHi - Free Personals

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?

    I got my first traffic ticket ever this weekend. It was actually a fairly frightening experience. It also made me disappointed with law enforcement.

    So, here's the story:

    Jake, Jon, Ellen, and I went to Rob's apartment Saturday night because he was throwing a birthday party for himself. I told Jake that I would drive after the party, so I limited myself to a single drink early on in the evening. Everyone else drank a little bit, but not heavily by any means. We got to Rob's at a bit after 8pm and didn't leave until almost 1am. When that time came, Jake and I told Jon and Ellen we would drive them to the Metro so that they could get home.

    Coming out of Rob's apartment complex, I wanted to take a left turn onto Seminary Rd., but couldn't because of how the road is set up. I had to take a right. As we approached the first stop light after getting onto Seminary, we all noted that there was a sign indicating "No U-turn". Jake said to me, "Aw, just do a u-turn..." It was late, there wasn't any traffic on the road, and I was eager to shave a little bit of time off of driving home, so I didn't need much prodding. I did a u-turn. Immediately after I pulled around, a police car pulled out from around a corner and the lights came on. Shit.

    A police officer came up to the car and said he pulled me over for an illegal u-turn. I said, "Oh...yeah," and gave him my license and registration when he asked for it. A few minutes later, a second police officer came up to my window. He said, "What's your current address?" I told him. He said, "Have you been drinking tonight?" I said, "No..." Everyone else in the car told him that they'd been drinking and I was the designated driver. He said, "Well, I smell alcohol coming out of the car. If I ask you for a PBT, will it come up all zeroes?" I was like, "Uh, PBT?" He said, "A Preliminary Breath Test. Will you blow all zeroes?" I said, "Um, yeah, I guess..." The second officer walked away from our car. A bit later, a squad car pulled out from behind the car that pulled me over. I hadn't even realized until that moment that I had been pulled over by TWO cop cars. I was freaking out. I really didn't want to give a breath test. I knew if they did give me one, it wouldn't come up as all zeroes, but I was definitely under the legal limit. I'd had about four hours of sobering up and I'd eaten food in between as well. The first officer returned to my window and informed me that he was going to administer a field sobriety test to me. I was really nervous. The first thing I was asked to do was recite the alphabet from "I to X". I was not allowed to sing it. I was so nervous that when I got to "S", I said "X" instead. I quickly figured out that that was wrong and corrected myself, but still, I felt like a moron. Then, I was asked to touch each of my fingers one at a time to my thumb, starting with my index finger and ending with my pinkie. Then, I had to work backwards, starting with my pinkie and ending with my index finger. Each finger was assigned a number and I had to say the number as I touched it to my thumb. I had to repeat the entire sequence three times without stopping. So, I was saying "1-2-3-4, 4-3-2-1," as my fingers tapped my thumb. After I was done with that, the officer told me that he was just writing me up for the u-turn and that I was free to go.


    The whole experience was just very nerve-wracking.

    Don't cops have anything better to do than pull people over for little things like u-turns? It wasn't as if I was endangering anyone or anything like that. Gah, so annoying...

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    Cross 'Em Off the List!

    Yesterday, I completed two of the things on my "50 things" list. I chopped my hair so I can donate it! See!

    I sent my hair to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths instead of Locks of Love. I think most of their wig donations go to women who have undergone chemotherapy while Locks of Love's go to kids with alopecia. Pantene only required 8 inches of hair, while Locks requires 10. When I measured the ponytail the woman chopped off my head myself, I think it was about 9 inches.

    The second thing I can cross off my list is making a homemade pizza. I found out that I had a pizza dough recipe in one of my cookbooks, so I used that and topped off the pizza with some stuff from the CSA (tomatoes, basil, green peppers, arugula) as well as tomato sauce, onions, and mozzarella that I picked up on the side. It turned out fairly nicely. Look:

    I'm really flying through this list! If I get too many things done before the due date, I guess I'll just have to write a new list early on!

    Monday, September 24, 2007

    The weekend

    Jake and I went on a trip to Delaware on Friday and Saturday. On Friday afternoon, we drove out. We stopped at this awesome place called "Yoder's Country Store" and I bought random cheap spices and stuff. Then, we toured the Dogfish Head brewery. Their beer is interesting. A lot of it has a very high alcohol content. Jake and I both really like their "Punkin' Ale". It tastes like pumpkin pie. Yum!

    Then, we drove to Econolodge in Rohoboth Beach, DE. I wouldn't recommend staying there. They gave us a smoking room when we requested non-smoking (and the room smelled bad, despite what they told us about cleaning it up for us...), there were a couple of broken lamps, and the bedspread had holes burned into it. Ick. was just a cheap room.

    On Saturday, we hung around on the beach. Here's Jake on the beach:

    This is one example of my fine photography. Oh, and it will only get better as I continue in my class...

    It rained Saturday afternoon and I got totally soaked running to get the car while Jake sat under a gazebo and managed to stay dry.

    On Sunday, Jake and I toured the National Arboretum. Now I sort of wish that I had taken Maria there when she visited because I'm sure she would have enjoyed it. We took a tram tour first. Then, we walked around and saw an exhibit of bonsai trees, an herb garden (there were a bunch of different types of peppers growing in there and I was very tempted to try to steal one...), and some columns that were removed from the Capitol building in the 1950s. Awesome.

    Thursday, September 20, 2007

    Oh, I almost forgot...

    I wanted to blog about Oprah yesterday, but my internet wasn't working.

    She had a show on Tuesday where Jenny McCarthy came on and talked about her son, who has autism. Jenny made the claim that she thinks her son developed autism as a result of the MMR vaccines. I seriously wanted to throw something at my tv when she said that. I'm sooo pissed off that there will be parents that see the show and decide not to get their kids vaccinated based on Jenny's statements. The research doesn't support the idea that vaccines contribute to autism. Thimerisol was taken out of the MMR vaccine in the US in 2001 or 2002, and autism rates have still been increasing. Gah...people are morons.

    Why do I continue to watch Oprah? First there's all this crap about "The Secret", then she plugs psychics, then she spreads all this misinformation about autism... Oprah, you are quickly falling from grace. I really think you mean well, but sometimes, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." (I suppose that quote would be more powerful if I actually believed in hell...but maybe I just mean hell metaphorically or something...) Really, woman, you need to do better on the fact-checking...

    My Finger is Healing and I'm Having Random Fun

    I got my stitches out yesterday. Yay! The nurse told me to be careful with my finger for he first 24 hours of the stitches being out. She actually said, "You know, don't whack your kids with that hand or anything..." WTF?

    Jake and I started a photography class on Tuesday night. Did I mention earlier that we bought a digital SLR camera with some of our wedding money? Well, the class is going to teach us what all the buttons and doohickeys are on it. We are supposed to take pictures every week and bring them to class to be critiqued. I took a few already yesterday while on a walk through the cemetery near our apartment. Jake wants to leave for the beach this weekend, so I'm sure we'll take a bunch more. Maybe I'll post some examples of my finest photography later as the class rolls on. :) Our teacher is Pete Duvall; he and his wife do freelance photography. They have a website.

    We've been watching Badger football on the weekends at Hamilton's, which is the new alumni bar in DC. We all (Jake, Jon, Ellen, and me) like it better than the Exchange, the old alumni bar.

    Here's a picture of me, Jon, and Ellen dancing around in the bar:

    This past weekend, we wandered around after the game and found out that a new Shakespeare theatre opened downtown. We got a bunch of free food that Target was giving out, and Ellen and I made crowns:

    Last night, Jake and I saw Naomi Klein speak about her new book "The Shock Doctrine". It was interesting, but I felt like I only had a vague idea about some of the stuff she talked about (I'm not really hip to stuff about Chicago-style economics or Bolivian history or anything...but it was interesting to learn a bit about). It also made for a bit of a late night, but I think if there's ever anyone speaking again at Politics and Prose that I'm interested in, it's worth it to go and hear a talk. Plus, it's still on my list to go and get a signed copy of a book (I suppose I could have done that last night, but I think I'd want to get a book about something that I know more about and could actually possibly have an intelligent conversation with the author that too much to ask? Or should I just resign myself to the fact that I'll probably have anxiety talking to anyone while getting a book signed? Well, maybe I could get a signed copy of Wayne Williams's book without worrying that I looked like a moron...)

    If anyone is interested, there is a short film advertising Naomi Klein's book:

    I have a phone interview tomorrow morning, and once that is over, Jake and I are planning to go to the beach in Delaware. Yay beach!

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    Gah, I want these things out!!

    Sorry, people who are squeamish. Here's a picture of my stitches. I'm getting them taken out tomorrow (finally!).

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007


    Jake and I just bought plane tickets to go to Milwaukee the first weekend in November. We're going to a wedding reception for his friends Feryl and Erika. The thing that's different about this reception is that it's going to be a costume party, so we have to come up with costume ideas before we go.

    I thought it would be cool if Jake went as Duff man and I went as a beer bottle, but then Jake saw me looking at the steps some other guy went through to make a Duff man costume and said it would be too much work. We'd have to make a belt with beer cans attached to it somehow. I don't know how I'd make myself into a beer bottle either...

    Anyone have any cool costume ideas?

    Wednesday, September 05, 2007

    Trip to the ER

    Yesterday I was busy doing dishes around noon when a glass slipped and broke. I got a huge gash across my left pinkie finger. I wadded up a tissue on the injury and tried to apply pressure, but the cut was so deep there was no way it was going to clot up. I called Jake at work freaking out about what to do and he said he'd bike home and drive me to the ER.

    So, after a few hours, a tetanus shot, some x-rays, and six stitches, I came back home yesterday. Thankfully, I'm covered by Jake's insurance. This would have really sucked if it happened before the wedding. The doctor also told me that I was lucky that I didn't end up with a severed tendon. I'll probably end up with a crazy scar on my pinkie. It's weird to type with a messed up pinkie finger...

    I was actually supposed to go to the gyno yesterday, so I called and rescheduled my appointment for Thursday. It is going to be a couple of weeks filled with medical appointments. The ER referred me to a doctor to get the stitches taken out, so I called to try to make an appointment for that. The doctor probably won't be able to take them out for another 2 weeks, but I was told that I needed to schedule an appointment in a week "just to check on it". The receptionist woman also told me that I should try to swing by the hospital to pick up copies of my x-rays before coming in for my appointment. WTF? What a waste of time...I'm not going to do that. Doesn't that seem like a strange request? Screw that...

    Now Jake has to do the dishes and stuff at home because I can't put my hand in standing water. It also puts a kink in his plan to go to the beach in two weekends...yeah, I don't think Jake is too happy I got hurt.

    I wanted to take a picture of my gross looking finger with all the stitches in it, but I couldn't find a good way of doing it on my own. This picture of me bandaged up taken by Jake will have to do:

    Friday, August 31, 2007


    I was talking to Jake last night. We returned to the familiar conversational theme of me complaining that I don't have a job, I don't do anything worthwhile, and even if I had a job, it probably wouldn't allow me to do anything all that fantastic. After I throw myself a little pity party, I tend to joke around about what I would do with myself, given money, power, etc. I throw out a bunch of BS ideas. Sometimes the ideas have to do with saving the world. Sometimes they are just get-rich quick schemes.

    Anyway, last night I told Jake that I was going to solve the "climate crisis". I told him all we should do is pump all the excess carbon into tanks and shoot it into outer space. Of course, Jake rightfully laughed at my inefficient, unworkable BS. He may have laughed more at this idea than the horrible idea I had for a restaurant selling BBQ tofu on a stick. He said, "Do you even realize how much fuel gets burned up shooting something into space?" Then he laughed even more as I stupidly suggested the development of a solar powered rocket. Then Jake said, "Why not just use a space elevator?" And I was like, "What's that??" He rolled his eyes like he couldn't believe I've never heard of a space elevator. Then he explained to me the idea of hooking up an elevator onto an object in geosynchronous orbit as a way of reducing the energy required to get into outer space. People have actually thought of this! Look! Jake said, "Okay, maybe we have to get a subscription to Popular Science or something so you know what I'm talking about..." Is it weird that I've never heard of a space elevator? Oh, I love my husband. Yes, this is what makes marrying him worthwhile... I'm not kidding. The space elevator made my day.

    Thursday, August 30, 2007

    One in a Million

    Lloyd Christmas: What are the chances of a guy like you and a girl like me...ending up together?
    Mary Swanson: Not good.
    Lloyd Christmas: You mean not good like one out of a hundred?
    Mary Swanson: I'd say more like one in a million.
    [a long sad pause]
    Lloyd Christmas: So you're telling me there's a chance? Yeah! I read ya.

    ~From Dumb and Dumber

    I typically write down every job to which I apply.

    I just counted and I've applied to 99 jobs since leaving my old job.


    This is such BS. I'm so ready to give up.

    Gah...I'm just grasping onto the hope that more places will be hiring in the fall and that there will be less competition from recent grads, etc.

    99 is a lot, right? I would hope that my chances of getting a job are better than one in a hundred...but who knows, right? Maybe it's more like one in a million...

    Tuesday, August 28, 2007


    Jake and I flew to Chicago this weekend for Dan's wedding. Here are some quick highlights:

    We rediscovered how much CTA sucks. We tried to take the train to downtown, only to be forced onto a bus because they were doing trackwork. It took forever. At least in DC, they've worked out a way to single-track trains so passengers can still use them when maintenance is required...

    We took a sightseeing boat tour of downtown. Here's a picture taken on the boat:

    We walked around downtown and went to Millennium Park. Here's the big jellybean sculpture thing:

    Here's a picture of a little boy throwing a ball underneath the sculpture thing (which wound up hitting me in the head):

    Can you find Jake and me?

    We met Jake's family and ate at Cheesecake Factory on Saturday night. Jake's parents were in town for an art fair and they also brought bicycles down to ride around town. Jake's brother and one of his friends drove down separately. Jake and I planned to get a ride back to our hotel from his parents, but then they told us that they had bikes in their car, so they initially suggested that we catch a ride with Seth. However, then we had dinner and Seth had obviously been drinking and intended to stick around downtown late into the evening going to the bars with his friend. We suggested that Jake's parents put their bikes into the car Seth drove down and drop us back at our hotel. After dinner, we had a little adventure looking for the car, because Seth and his friend weren't sure where they had parked... It all worked out, though, and Jake's parents got us back to our hotel safe and sound.

    Dan's wedding started on Sunday afternoon. Mitch and Danielle picked us up and took us to the banquet hall. We had to change our driving route several times because there were a lot of roads closed due to flooding.

    I don't think I'll ever experience another wedding quite like Dan's again in my life. Mitch and Danielle both said that it was one of the most religious weddings they've attended. During the ceremony, the men and the women had to sit on separate sides of the room. I'm glad Danielle was there, or I would have had to sit by myself. Here's a picture of Dan and Anya at the chuppah:

    During the reception part, the men and women also had to dance separately. They put a screen up between the men's part of the dance floor and the women's part. I think the amount of alcohol available was part of the Russian influence on the wedding. Each table had a full bottle of vodka, whiskey, white wine, red wine, and...I think I'm missing one bottle...and another bottle of alcohol. We ate Chinese food prepared by a kosher catering company. The evening's entertainment was interesting. Some people put on a skit, which included someone wearing a mask of Dan's face and Anya's brother dressed in drag. Lots of the men did all sorts of crazy dances trying to get Dan to laugh. The band's repertoire included a version of Men At Work's "Down Under" in Hebrew. Dan juggled fire. Yup, definitely an interesting evening...

    Here's one last picture of Dan and Anya. This one includes Dan's parents and sister and I believe someone's grandma...

    The two of them are moving to Israel in less than two weeks! Jake and I only got to meet Anya very briefly at the wedding. She asked Jake if he had any insider roommate tips of things to watch out for living with Dan. The two of them have some big changes coming up. It will be craziness, I'm sure...

    Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    Hair Cut

    The next time I get my hair cut, I want to donate my ponytail to Locks of Love. I was really thinking about doing it today. I thought I had enough to cut off. I got a trim a bit before the wedding while I was in Madison and the woman who cut my hair then told me that if I took off 10 inches, my hair would be just at the base of my hairline in the back. I thought I could deal with that. So, today I went into Hair Cuttery (a hair salon chain something like Cost Cutters or Fantastic Sams)and asked about Locks of Love. The women there looked horrified that I wanted to cut my hair that much. One of them said to me, "If you cut it off now, your hair will look like that," and pointed at a man sitting there looking at a magazine. His hair was pretty short...above his ears at least. much time will it take for me to grow my hair to a decent length?

    Another thing I wonder about is whether or not I should go into a place like the Hair Cuttery to have this done. The only time I've had my hair cut while I was in Virginia was at this little barber shop owned by a Korean family. Jake likes to go there because it's cheap and they cut his hair there the way he likes it. However, when I went in and tried to explain to Kim, the woman there, that I'd like to add some bangs, she didn't understand and told me her English wasn't that good (even though she's lived in the US for over 30 years...). I wound up just having her trim my hair because I was afraid she'd chop it all off when I didn't want her to. She was a nice lady and all(she probably talked to me more than any other hairdresser I've had in my life...really, she told me about coming to America, where her daughter works, introduced me to her bird, etc.), but I don't think I'd go back there to do a style change. Something easy like a trim again would be fine. When I went into the Hair Cuttery, the only people working there were a couple of Asian ladies and they both definitely had accents. Is it wrong of me to worry a bit about their English language skills when I'm looking for a drastic style change? I'm awful at explaining things and it probably won't help if I go in and talk to people that have difficulty with English. I'm afraid at this point that if I go in for a cheap haircut, I will have to deal with people with limited English skills. It just seems to be the case around here. Will I be fine if I just provide them with pictures of what I want? Or should I look into some pricey salon and pay 3 or 4 times as much just to have someone who can decipher my explanation of what I want my head to look like? Or, should I just wait until the next time I'm in Wisconsin or something to just avoid this whole ordeal?

    Ants/ Go Away/Come back/Another Day

    Jake and I have had an ant problem in our kitchen this whole summer. I keep seeing all these little brown ants all over our countertops. Jake even has a song about the ants. The title of this post contains all the lyrics. It's a really annoying song that he sings in this high-pitched voice. Now, every time I think about the ants, I think about the song, too.

    So anyway, I didn't want to buy traps, so I've tried all sorts of crazy stuff to get them to leave. I tried stuffing mint leaves into the cracks I where thought they might be coming in, wiping down with this mint concoction I made, pastes made of baking soda and turmeric, etc., etc. I was hopeful when we left for the wedding for a couple weeks, there wouldn't be anything to draw them into the kitchen and they'd disappear. No such luck. So, last week I started wiping down the counters with a mix of white vinegar and water and (I think...) finally they're gone. I haven't seen any in a while. Yay for white vinegar!

    Saturday, August 18, 2007

    We might finally get recycling!

    My landlord stopped Jake and me on the street this morning and told us that he's meeting with some other property owners on our block as well as with some people from the city government on Thursday about setting something up. Yay! Finally. I wrote an email to the city about this a while back and they were basically like, "Yeah, you should have recycling...we passed an ordinance last summer about that..." Then nothing happened. Then, Jake forwarded along the emails between me and the city to our landlord to see if he'd do more about it. Let's see if they finally get something going this week. *Crossing fingers*

    Does it ever annoy anyone else...

    that there are news websites, etc. where you can't post comments in response to the articles? The internet should be about the exchange of ideas! NBC had an article on the the price of milk this week I really wanted to comment on, but there was no forum available.

    Also, somewhat related..I'm addicted to craigslist's forums nowadays. It's crazy to me how many responses I can get when I post questions on there. I put something up about Cory's scholarship situation in both the legal and the education sections and I got lots of replies. There's one guy on there that is just basically a harasser. His handle is "crazyed" if anyone else sees him on CL. I clicked to see other stuff he wrote on there, and basically he gets on and tells women that they're fat and going to end up alone and stuff like that...anyway, he told me that if my brother sued over a scholarship it would be frivolous. I asked him "Why is it frivolous?"...big mistake, because I should have seen it coming that he wasn't going to say anything helpful in response. Anyway, I flagged what he said to me afterwards and got it deleted. Here's what he wrote that I made go away:

    bitch its frivolous "crazyed" 2007-08-17 10:34:52

    because people like YOU think something is owed to you because you got mad.

    you always look for some way to get paid. i bet its assholes like you that complains to the managers because the waiter didnt ask if you enjoyed your meals.

    and fyi slut if your BROTHER is so smart he would have gotten other scholarships. if he cant get grants or loans to pay for college then he should go to devry like you

    Wow, this guy is king of ad hominem. I get a kick out of it, in a way.'s frivolous because you're an asshole and a slut...

    Oh, "crazyed" are a curious man. I feel bad for you, in a way. What insecurities drive all these attacks on people? You must live a sad, sad life to feel motivated to come on and cyber-bully people.

    Most people at least attempted to be helpful, though.

    I also wrote about being in pain from slicing and seeding jalapeños. I've noticed that it bothers my skin afterwards lately. After the last couple of times I've handled them, I've had a horrible burning sensation on my hands. One time I also touched my face and my eyes and nose were burning, too. I googled it and most sites suggest using latex gloves or something, but I was hoping to get a suggestion as to something I could do that didn't generate more trash. People gave me lots of ideas...scooping the seeds with a teaspoon, washing up with rubbing alcohol afterwards, seeding the pepper under tap water, etc. Yay for people and their ideas! Oh, and I also got called a "gringa" and a "wimp"...not helpful.

    Can we restrict the internet to logical, helpful people? ;)

    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    Vegan Week

    One of the items on my 50 things to do before my second wedding anniversary list is to eat vegan for a week. I decided that this week would be the week I'd do it. I have time to plan meals since I'm not working, so I figured this would give me something to do. Also, because I have a lot of produce from the CSA, it should be much easier to do right now than other times in the year.

    My final non-vegan meal was Sunday brunch at the spectacular Southside 815. Southside is a restaurant that is only a couple of blocks from our apartment. I love that place. I've never felt disappointed after a visit there. It serves Southern-style food in the restaurant part, offers a good happy hour during the week in the bar part, and is only a short walk away when Jake and I are seeking a bar to watch Badger basketball or football on tv. I really need to ask where they get their meat from. Ever since I've been trying to eat ethically, I've stayed away from meat there. I'm sad about this because they have really great mini pulled pork sandwiches and yummy, yummy mini plates of nachoes with pulled pork on top during happy hour at unbeatable prices. Anyway, my last non-vegan meal before vegan week was a plate full of french toast (stuffed with cream cheese,raspberry jam, and pecans...yum!), a side of home fries, and a couple of cups of coffee.

    I decided to keep a record of the things that I ate over the week, as well as include a few amateur attempts at vegan food porn:

    Sunday dinner
    Fire Roasted Quinoa and Black Bean dish (borrowed from the blog Yeah, that Vegan Shit)

    (I had some quinoa up in my cupboard that I'd been waiting to use up since I made this thing with zucchini and peanut butter and quinoa a couple of months ago. I substituted fresh corn cut off the cob for the frozen stuff. )

    Half of one of those "tigger melons" for dessert

    Munich Dark Beer made by Capital Brewery in the evening while watching "West Wing" with Jake
    (We stockpiled as much Wisconsin beer as we could cram into the car on the drive back from the wedding...I didn't find out until later in the week that beer isn't always vegan. Apparently it's sometimes "finished" with things that include traces of fish bladder or egg albumen or crazy stuff like that...)

    Monday Breakfast
    Kashi Autumn Wheat Cereal with soy milk, coffee

    Monday Lunch

    Salt & Pepper Kettle Potato Chips

    Grilled Marinated Tofu Sandwich- I used sunflower seed bread (which I'm not sure is vegan...but I didn't care enough to bother to's good fluffy bread from a vendor at the farmers' market), tomatoes, and green leaf lettuce. I grilled some pressed tofu on this grill pan my mom gave me for the bridal shower. It was cool because it actually left grill marks on it. I marinated the tofu in Sweet and Tangy Polynesian sauce (which had honey in it...oops).

    Look at it...this is before I put the other toppings on it. Doesn't it almost look like chicken or something?

    Cup of tomato juice


    Monday dinner
    Veggie Fajitas on whole wheat tortillas with guacamole (made by Jake! Good job, Jake!)

    Chips, salsa, and guac

    Bottle of Spotted Cow

    Tuesday Breakfast
    Smoothie made with strawberries, a peach, some soy milk, and ice


    Some handfuls of Zoe's Honey Almond granola out of the box(yup, more honey...and this time it was on purpose...)
    Tuesday Lunch
    Chips and Salsa

    Sandwich (sunflower seed bread, red pepper hummus, cucumber, onion, lettuce, yellow tomatoes, jalapenos)

    Tomato juice

    "Donut" peach (I bought two of these at the grocery store...they are a locally grown variety of peach that is weird shape.)

    Tuesday Dinner
    Chickpea Curry (I got the recipe from a vegetarian cookbook Maria gave me a long time ago...) and brown rice

    cup of soy milk

    Wednesday Breakfast
    Kashi Autumn Wheat cereal with soy milk, coffee

    Wednesday Lunch
    Leftovers from the Fire Roasted Quinoa and Black Bean dish

    Cup of soy milk


    Wednesday Dinner
    I got creative and made up a dish. It was kind of loosely based on ratatouille, but doesn't have any eggplant. I don't know what to call it. It had pattypan squash, green beans, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and summer squash in it. I served it on top of plain couscous. I'll have to try to write the recipe down later.

    After dinner, Jake and I drank blackberry wine (I bought this in Harpers's a West Virginia wine).

    Thursday Breakfast
    Envirokids Frosted Flakes and soy milk, coffee

    Thursday Lunch
    Chips and Salsa

    Slices of cucumber with raspberry vinaigrette dressing

    Leftover veggie fajitas

    Salad (green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, raspberry vinaigrette)


    Thursday Dinner
    We went out Thursday night with PTO people for happy hour. I drank 2 pints of Grolsch (which I found out is actually vegan...). Jake wanted to order nachos and share them with me, so he asked for them without the beef, cheese, or sour cream. The waiter told him that the beef came mixed with the beans that were supposed to be on it. So, Jake asked for the beef mixture on the side so he could eat it. They wound up putting everything on the side...a little dish of guac, a little dish of jalapeños, and a little dish of "salsa" (which was plain chopped can that be "salsa"). It was weird. Then, I convinced Jake to walk across the street to eat at the buffet at Whole Foods afterwards. I was buzzing from the beer and excited about all my options (WF helpfully puts labels up that list all the ingredients on everything in the buffet. I could see it being related to the fact that John Mackey is a vegan...). So...I loaded down quite a hefty plate...Peruvian corn, naan flatbread, Chinese vegetables with tofu, curried garbanzo beans, and "Balti" vegetables. I was very full afterwards.

    Friday Breakfast
    Tofu Scramble with jalapeños, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cumin

    Toast with raspberry jam

    I really wanted to eat a good hearty breakfast before leaving for Atlantic City because I wasn't sure what I'd find for vegan options at the restaurants there. I really overspiced the tofu scramble in the morning, but I wound up eating most of what I served myself. I felt like my eyes and nose were going to completely burn off. Jake threw about half of his breakfast away...

    Friday Bus Ride Snack
    Diet Dr. Pepper

    Bag of Fritos

    Vodka/Cranberry Juice

    Friday Lunch
    We ate at the "Sultan's Buffet" in Donald Trump's Taj Mahal casino. I loaded down my plate with stuff off the salad bar. Kevin looked at my plate and said, "What, did you get the fruit plate?" I got a good amount of veggies, mandarin oranges, beets, a tomato salad, some marinated mushrooms, a roll, and some tomato basil soup (It very probably had cream or something in it, but there were no labels and I didn't feel like asking. I had two bowls full. It was delicious.).

    Friday Dinner
    Udon noodles with vegetables at this cafe in a shopping center in AC

    "Energy" vitamin water

    French fries from a vendor on the boardwalk (Actually, this vendor still had them labeled as "Freedom Fries"...)

    Saturday Breakfast
    Envirokidz frosted flakes with soy milk, coffee

    Saturday Lunch

    Chips and salsa

    Leftovers (some chickpea curry and some of the random veggie dish with the squash in it)

    Saturday Dinner
    Avocado and Veggie sushi, Veggie spring rolls, and mango tea at Bumblefish

    Bar of Divine dark chocolate (which may contain traces of milk...bah...)

    Sunday Breakfast

    Cinnamon Puffins cereal with soy milk


    Yay!!! I'm done!! Weeeeee!! I made it!!

    Why did I decide to go vegan? Well, firstly, I think it had to do with just basically being more aware of the food I'm putting in my body. I think I consume more fatty dairy than is really necessary. Also, I do think the dairy industry inflates how much their products are really necessary for a healthy lifestyle. So, I think I also wanted to go vegan as a statement against the Standard American Diet as well as corporate marketing of certain foods. I wanted to prove that I could eat healthily and heartily as a vegan (I feel I ate fairly healthily, considering I ate a good variety got lots of produce in my diet. I do wonder if it was a bit soy-heavy, though...and of course, I probably took in too much alcohol.). I think I ate well, for the most part, and enjoyed most of what I ate. (I think I need to keep in mind what it was like eating vegan at a big, crazy buffet like the one in Atlantic definitely is a good idea to make sure the majority of your plate is filled with low-cal, highly filling items such as vegetables...)Finally, I ate vegan because I can understand the logic of eating vegan as an ethical standpoint. I feel that vegans are at least consistent and it makes more sense to me than dieting. I want to go on record that I did not do this as a "diet". I did not want to lose weight (and I didn't! I maintained my same weight...ha!). I do not believe in "going on a diet". I think diets mess up people's metabolisms and probably actually contribute to the reason why people are overweight/obese. I think it's all about having a lifestyle of healthy eating rather than a short term "quick fix".

    On the other hand, I have no intention and no willpower to ever go permanently vegan. First of all, I enjoy dairy and eggs far too much. When I was growing up, I avoided most cheese because of an incident when I was 3 or 4 years old wherein I ate too many slices of processed American cheese and threw up. (Sidenote: I learned recently that when processed cheese was first being produced in the US, natural cheesemakers pushed the USDA to label it as "embalmed" cheese. Ha! Yeah, I think I could agree with that one...). It wasn't until I was in high school that I started to actually try cheese that wasn't mozzarella on pizza. I found that cheese is quite varied and most is delicious. (Oh, I love sharp cheddar...and Gouda...and feta...gurgle. I could do without that bleu cheese stuff, though...)Really, cheesemaking is probably quite the art. Why would I want to deprive myself of cheese again in my life? Not to mention ice cream...oh ice cream... Secondly, I really do want to support small-scale dairy farmers. I have members of my extended family in the dairy business and I know that they have struggled to make ends meet. Jake and I try to buy dairy for at home that is small-scale, organic, and rBGH-free for the most part (I know going out or ordering food we're not able to have that...but, no one's perfect).

    Anyway, I'm rambling and ranting on and on...

    So... In conclusion, I'm going to Chipotle for lunch today. Oh, I'm so ready for some meaty, sour creamy burrito goodness. Woo!

    But...vegan week was an interesting learning experience. I recommend it.

    Thursday, August 09, 2007


    Does anyone know of people who are members of Toastmasters? I'm sort of thinking about looking into it as a way to improve my horrible oral communication skills. I'm afraid I'd end up checking it out and it'd just be a bunch of 60 year olds and me, though. I'd want to do it if I thought there were at least a few other young people, but I don't know what type of people Toastmasters attracts...

    Tuesday, August 07, 2007


    Jake just told me about this website that calculates how walkable a neighborhood is based on proximity to schools and workplaces, pedestrian-friendly layout, well-connected streets, etc. I looked at the address of the old Madison apartment on Mifflin and it rated as a 98 out of 100! Wow! My old place in Eau Claire rated as a 42...I remember griping a lot when I moved there how I felt disconnected from everything. Our place right now is a 72. I think walking most places is doable from here. It makes me happy to live in a place that is walkable. I definitely want that wherever we end up settling down.

    Monday, August 06, 2007

    Tubing in West Virginia

    We went white water tubing this weekend near Harpers Ferry. Good times. I fell off my tube in the rapids and had to swim to some rocks and pull myself out of the water. I was able to climb some rocks and go back upstream so as to experience actually sitting on the tube while on the rapids.

    Friday, August 03, 2007

    Food Is Interesting

    Finding out what is in our CSA share every week is an adventure. This week, we got a big white squash, which I have no idea what to do with yet. Does anyone have suggestions?

    We also got something called "tigger melons", I believe. At least, that's what this woman called them when I went to pick up my share this week. Jake and I ate one of them for dessert last night.

    Tomato season is in full swing. I've done so much with tomatoes lately! I made two batches of pico de gallo last week. I served some of it to guests we had over on Saturday night. I've also made fried green tomatoes, used tomatoes in salads, and made homemade tomato sauce to put on pasta. I learned that if you dunk a tomato in boiling water for a few seconds, then cool it in ice water, you can easily remove the peel. It's interesting. I was thinking that I want to try making sauce and freezing it, but I've actually been able to use all the tomatoes fresh lately, just through meal planning. Maybe if I get some more in the upcoming weeks.

    We've also had a lot of cucumbers. One week I made a big cucumber and onion salad, but I've also been using them on sandwiches and also just as a snack with either hummus or salad dressing.
    How do people get to be cookbook writers? I think it'd be interesting to do. Any recipe I'd write would probably be a slight rip-off of other recipes, though.
    Well, now I want to tool around and look for something to do with that clue on what will work with that thing...

    Thursday, August 02, 2007

    Well, this is annoying.

    I'm trying to apply for a job with the US Department of Education, but it's giving me crap because my "name and ssn do not match" what they have on file for me previously. Crap. I wonder if I wait until I get my new ssn card in the mail if I'll be able to fix this somehow. I don't want to screw around with re-changing my name back to Manthei in the USAjobs database, because it is letting me apply to other jobs with my new name. Bah...well, the job doesn't close until August 14, so I think I'll just wait and try again and if it doesn't fix itself, maybe I'll call someone for tech support or something...

    Wednesday, August 01, 2007


    How in the hell does a bridge collapse out of nowhere?

    I just saw the news report on what's happening in Minneapolis. Holy fuck... I hope everyone I know in the area is okay.

    I can't see what's happening. Jake and I don't get the cable news...I'm so irritated that we can currently see America's Top Model and some stupid dance show but we can't see the news. Blah...

    Monday, July 30, 2007

    Post-weddingness, the job hunt, and small town affairs

    It's hard for me to determine what things I should blog about and what things I shouldn't. I feel that I have a number of ideas of things I could write about, but if I wrote about everything I thought of, it would take forever. I heard a podcast recently that discussed the impact of blogs and how blogs are the new photo album/scrapbook of our time. The blogger they had on was a mother and there was a discussion of what this woman was leaving behind for her child as she blogged about his developmental milestones as well as all of her frustrations and difficulties trying to be a good parent. I know that what I write now is what I'll have to look back on in the future. How do I narrow that down? What's more important, a log of my day-to-day experiences? My take on what I see in the news or on what I read? My general feelings about life in the abstract?

    Speaking of blogging...Way to go, Jake! You've rejoined the blogging community. Keep it up! (For those of you who don't know, Jake decided recently to make his own list of 50 things to do before our second wedding anniversary. He also added a post to his blog, which he hasn't done in quite some time...) Now we need to keep tabs on each other and try to get each other to do the things on our lists.

    Things post-wedding have been going great. Jake and I had an enjoyable day in Madison right after the wedding, when all the stress was over with. We had a nice breakfast at the Arbor House (where we stayed), opened gifts, went to the Art Fair on the Square, and had our first "married date" (dinner at Lombardino's and Michael Moore's new movie)that evening. We organized our apartment not long after we got back and took a bunch of stuff to Goodwill. We've gone on a camping trip to Shenandoah and took the time to play games and hang out with Jon, Ellen, Rob, & Christine. I now have almost all of my thank-yous written and hope to get them mailed this week. Our official marriage license came in the mail and Jake was able to add me to his health insurance policy. Now the main things I have to work on are a lot of the name change stuff and finding a job...

    I have an interview Wednesday for a job as a career counselor. It sounds like a different sort of job. It's career counseling through the NIH for postdocs...I'm not sure how helpful I could be in that capacity or exactly how much career counseling postdocs really need...

    Jobs...eek. I'm so not sure what I want to do. It's nice in a way to not have a job right now, but I feel insecure about it, too.

    I have a lot of things to look forward to in my calendar. We're planning to go tubing down the Potomac this upcoming weekend. We'll probably have another poker tournament in a couple of weeks. We're flying to Chicago in another month to go to Dan's wedding. Tonia is having a bridal shower at the beginning of September, which will be interesting if I go to it. We're driving with Jon and Ellen to Penn State in mid-October to see some Badger football. And, Sarah might come visit at the end of October!! Yay!

    There is drama back home regarding Princeton High School, a scholarship, and my brother. There appears to be a case of favoritism which caused school officials to award a $9,000 scholarship (which should have gone to my brother due to his class rank) to another student (who has a parent that is a teacher/coach at Princeton). My brother tried to find out about what was going on with it and the principal was unable to satisfactorily explain to him why this other student got the scholarship. In fact, my brother's investigations into this scholarship prompted the principal to write Cory a letter about how she regretted "advocating" for him when he asked that he receive credits for some independent studies he has taken under the technology teacher at the high school. My parents are going in to speak it all before the school board. I don't know what to say about this...I hope it gets addressed. I'm tempted to tell my family they should get a lawyer and look into suing. I'm not exactly sure what kind of a case they have, though...and I wouldn't want to be responsible for telling my parents to spend a couple thousand dollars on a lawyer if they lost.

    Sunday, July 22, 2007

    Template Change

    Jake said my blog was hard for him to read and hurt his eyes. So, I'm changing the look of things. Hmm...this kind of sucks, but I'm tired of playing around with the colors...

    Friday, July 20, 2007

    "We must be the change we want to see in the world"

    I've been thinking about college and about Chadbourne in particular lately. Seeing all the former Chadbornians at my wedding reminded me of what great people lived in that building. To me, it doesn't seem that such a large number of ethical, concerned individuals would have come out of other random college dorms. Do you think that people wind up gravitating towards other people with similar mindsets?

    When Cory was looking at dorms, I suggested that he consider Chadbourne as his top choice. He wasn't interested in it at all. He's going to live in Kronshage. It'll actually probably work out well for him. I can imagine him out there on the lakeshore, running around with a bunch of equally sporty guys, kicking around a soccer ball or something. I suppose he fits there better than in a dorm with Star Trek interest groups and Forum meetings. (Ha! I also just made myself think about the intra-mural soccer team I was on with some Chadbournians..."Catastrophic Failure". We changed our name to that from "Bucky's Finest" because our team was gawky, non-athletic, and lost our first game 14-0...classic.)

    Oh, Chadbourne. Do you other Chadbourne people agree with me that there was probably a higher percentage of "geeks" in our dorm? In retrospect, I think it was a little more likely that people in Chadbourne were a bit socially awkward. Myself included.

    Wow, looking back on college is kind of like watching a "Revenge of the Nerds" movie in my head...haha, just kidding...

    The subject of children has come up several times lately. I guess it's one of those things people talk to you about when you get married. I guess everyone figures it's like that song: "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage." Lelani asked me a few times while I was home when I was thinking about having kids. When I went to pick up my marriage certificate, they included a little pamphlet on prenatal health in the packet of stuff they gave me. I thought that was amusing.

    Anyway, I'm not thinking about having kids any time very soon. Jake and I both agree that we'll probably take at least a couple years to enjoy ourselves for a while before having kids. Another thing I'm really considering is having a social network set up that I feel will support us when we have a family (I'm not sure I'd have enough of one to have a kid right now while in DC). I remember looking at the research while I was in grad school and thinking to myself about this. I remember being struck by the idea that children who grow up with parents who say they feel that they have social support wind up being generally more stable and secure. That's what I want when I have kids. I want to know that I have people I can call up and help out. I want to know that there will be people willing to babysit...that there will be people willing to listen to my problems...that there will people there just to hang out with and laugh with now and again, etc...I definitely think that's key in handling the stresses of parenthood and with raising well-balanced children.

    This all relates back to what college life was like. I read something recently that said living in close company with others is actually what we're ideally suited for evolutionarily and that this is why many people remember their college years as "the best years of their life". Yes, Emily, Sarah, Laura, Liz, and Brighton...I'd do it all over again. Nevermind the spats about which way the tines of the forks should go in the was all worth it to have you all around all the time. I learned new things, tried new things I wouldn't have on my own, laughed a lot, and always felt that there was someone at home to spend time with if I didn't want to lock myself away in my room and study. I'm glad also that we have blogs, etc. to keep in touch because I really don't want to lose any of you. I'm serious. Call me anytime.

    I'm not sure how to end this and I'm kind of I'll just stop.

    Thursday, July 19, 2007


    I feel like there are a million things I want to blog about right now. I never got around to saying anything about our trip to Canada and now there's all this stuff that happened post-wedding I wouldn't mind writing about either...

    Anyway, I think the first thing I want to say before I get to anything else is that I'm really happy about how our wedding turned out. It was a lot of fun and quite memorable (although stressful). I was really surprised and touched by the generosity and the well-wishes from many people. I feel incredibly lucky to have such great friends and family. I'm really happy I got to spend some time in Madison and it was a great reminder of what a fantastic city it is, filled with friendly and intelligent people.

    Well, I've been doing a lot of blogging this morning, so I want to take a break. Hopefully, I'll be able to get around to writing about some of the other non-wedding stuff I want to get to sometime soon...

    The Top Ten Things to Consider When Having a Wedding.

    1. Think about getting a wedding planner.

    I originally thought this was probably a waste of money. However, on the day of the wedding, I really felt that I wanted someone else to be there to field everyone's questions and concerns. I wanted someone else to be in charge so I could just enjoy myself and not have a million worries. People kept asking, "What's happening with ...?" "When are we doing...?" "Are we going to...?" Most of the time my answer was, "I don't know..."

    Maria, I want to take this opportunity to tell you that I love you. You stepped it up at the end of the night. Way to get on the people at the Union so that we could get a cart for our gifts and way to tell that boy working there exactly how to wrap up that leftover cake. You rock. I was so tired of flagging down people to explain things and straighten things out at that are a savior. Okay, maybe you don't need a wedding planner per se, but you need to have a go-to person that isn't you...

    2. Skip having anything religious, if possible.

    Really, if you can get the vows down to: "Do you?" "Yes" "Do you?" "Yes", it would be ideal. I didn't need all this junk about how I needed to submit to Jake like the church submits to Christ or whatever. Also, I feel that religion is a major factor causing hatred and divisiveness in the world. It's definitely the reason certain people did not show up to our wedding ceremony. Yes, I said people...although I know everyone is probably thinking of a certain person in our wedding party...

    I wonder how it would have worked out if I would have just gone with a justice of the peace. I think my mom would have eventually dealt with it. Oh well...too late now.

    On a somewhat related sidenote: I was digging around in some boxes while I was at home in Princeton and I found this workbook from a class I took in 7th or 8th grade while at the Lutheran school called "Faith Shakers". I decided that I had to take it back to Virginia with me because it is just far too amusing...the book gives a little history and some idea of the teaching of various "cults" and then suggests Bible passages to look up in order to refute their teachings. It also includes a checklist of "Telltale Signs" that a religion is a cult. I think it's hilarious that the only "Telltale Sign" that Humanism (basically a belief in science...what I'd consider myself to follow right now...) is a cult is that it "Claims a written authority besides the Bible." Hahaha. Another favorite part of the book for me is a little list of points to keep in mind when responding to members of "cults". A key point is: "Don't argue. Logic will never work in explaining a faith." Yup... just hold onto your illogical beliefs and be proud in deluding yourself that you're "right".

    3. Don't register for a punch bowl.

    While we were registering for stuff, a punch bowl sounded like such a fun thing. Like, "Yeah...we could have a party with punch! It'll be fun!" We opened it in front of our parents and my mom was like, "The punch bowl that I have always gets in the way and I never know what to do with it." Now that we have the punch bowl at home, I can see what she means. There really isn't a compact and practical place for us to store it in our apartment...and I have a feeling it's not going to get a lot of use. Currently, it's on top of a shelving unit we put into the kitchen and all of our bottles of alcohol are stacked on top of it. The alcohol nearly touches the ceiling. Now I definitely have to get something to stand on if I'm going to pour myself a drink. Sorry, Jake's high school friends who bought us the punch is just a large, impractical thing.

    4. Tell your friends to clearly identify which cards and gifts are from them.

    A lot of cards and stuff got shuffled around and some bagged gifts were dumped together when people helped us load the gifts from the Union and transport them to the hotel room. I'm still working out a bit of confusion over this. Elizabeth Baker, you are a genius. Good job attaching a swatch of the wrapping paper you used on the vacuum to the front of the envelope for your card. I'm totally using this idea the next time I go to a wedding.

    5. Tip people off to let them know what stuff on your registry you actually want.

    I caught wind that my brother was thinking about buying Jake and me more kitchen stuff. I knew that we already had a lot of kitchen stuff coming already and that it was going to be a tight squeeze in our cupboards, so I told Cory camping stuff would be more ideal. So, Cory was the only person to get us camping stuff. Good job, Cory. I really did want a tent and that picnic set you got us.

    6. Invite all your random fun friends.

    Matt T kept that dance floor hopping all night long. Matt VL brought along fake mustaches. It's stuff like that that makes a wedding actually fun.

    7. Serve alcohol.

    Oh, alcohol. The magic it can work on a crowd and the memories it can create. My brother got up and danced with Matt T, which I don't think I could have paid him to do sober. Jake's brother went over and drunkenly asked his mom, "Is Cory, like, Candy's sister?" Yup, the things alcohol can make people say and do...

    8. Get someone you like and get along with to take photographs.

    This is a person that will be pulling you aside all day long and you will have to spend a considerable amount of time with. Don't bother with someone who tells corny jokes and with whom you have next to nothing in common with... I was so relieved when the photographer told me he was leaving for the evening. I felt freed in a way. I think we will end up with some nice pictures, but I sort of wish that the person taking the pictures was someone I felt was on the same wavelength as me...

    9. Remember you have on a huge, crazy dress.

    I temporarily forgot that I was wearing something that would make me look out of place when I suggested that we go find a seat on the Terrace and wait for our photographer to meet up with us. We walked in front of everyone out there and a got a round of applause from a few hundred people. Wow, I wasn't prepared in my head for that to happen... So, you have to be prepared to be a celebrity for a day. It can be a bit of an ego boost. You have people randomly coming up to you wanting to have their picture taken with you. You have things happen like a crowd of random drunk girls yelling at you, "Woo! You are a sexy, sexy bride! We love you!"

    10. Skip the huge, crazy dress if possible.

    It's a pain. It's hot. It's itchy. It's uncomfortable. It's an invitation for all sorts of people to come up and touch you all day long. The bustle on my dress kept falling and people came to drag me off the dance floor a couple of times. I ripped that dress off my body before Jake could come back into our hotel room after saying goodbye to his parents in the parking lot and thanking them for helping us get the gifts to the hotel...I just could not stand to be in that thing any longer.

    Friday, June 29, 2007


    I'm changing my name soon. That will be weird. I have to get used to signing my name differently...I haven't practiced or anything.

    Boy, this could wind up being a pain in the ass. How do I change all of this stuff? The name that comes up when I email? The name on my loans? my credit cards? my library card? driver's license? Passport? I feel like it's going to take forever to get that stuff changed.

    Jake and I had a conversation one day and he said he didn't envy me at all about getting my name changed. I joked that we should be one of those couples that comes up with a new last name for both of us that combines our old last names.

    Our favorites:
    Mantranek (doesn't that sound like a tech company or something?)

    Haha... it'd be awesome if Jake's new name was Jacob Manpet.

    Keeping Up with the Joneses.

    I added some more stuff to our wedding registry this morning due to pressure from people to do it. I don't want people to buy us a bunch of fancy crap. If you buy me a piece of china, it will sit in a closet. DO NOT BUY IT FOR ME. I didn't register for china, so I hope no one takes it upon themselves to buy it for me.

    One of Jake's aunts gave us all these pages torn out of catalogs with "ideas" of things she could give us for the wedding. Apparently nothing on our registries were crazy fancy enough for her. Argh.

    We invited a bunch of people from Jake's work to the wedding and none of them can make it. However, now they all feel obligated to give us gifts and they really shouldn't. They were asking us about wedding registries on Monday while we were out for drinks. I just wanted to invite them because I thought it would be fun if any of them decided they wanted to take a vacation to Wisconsin on a whim. I just want to have a party and this whole wedding thing is so confusing to me.

    Tonia (a girl that works at the patent office) is getting married in November. I just looked at her wedding registry. A single place setting off her registry costs about as much as all of our dishes combined. Holy crap.

    I don't need a bunch more stuff. Really. Our place is small. We already have trouble fitting the things we have into our apartment.

    This reminds me... I have a friend who works at the patent office. She's thirty and single. She owns a three bedroom home up in Maryland. She's looking to move out of it, because her commute to work is about two hours, I think (she got the house when she worked at a different job). Anyway, she was telling me that she is thinking about getting an apartment in Alexandria for the time being while she researches the housing market in VA and decides where to move. However, she said that she wants a three bedroom apartment! I said, "Why do you need a three bedroom apartment?" She said, "Because I have all this nice furniture and I need a place to keep it. I had to furnish a three bedroom house, you know." "Why don't you just get rid of the furniture so you can live in a smaller place?" "Well, it's nice's mahogany and stuff." "Why do you need so much room?" " know, it's for guests and stuff..." "Has anyone ever slept in your other bedrooms?" "Well, no...but my brother has come over and slept on the couch before. I have a nice sleeper sofa. I want to keep that." "Come on, just sell your stuff on Craigslist or something." "Who's going to want to buy all this used furniture?" "I'm sure someone would be willing to take it." "Take it! But this is expensive stuff! I paid good money for it!" "I think you could get a fair price for can ask whatever you want for it on Craigslist." "I guess...oh...I don't know..."

    Seriously, sometimes people just make me want to smack my forehead. Please someone tell me I am crazy if I ever get that attached to a bunch of stuff...