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...